Archive for the ‘WORKOUTS & CHALLENGES’ Category

Work that Core!

Posted: July 8, 2011 in GENERAL, WORKOUTS & CHALLENGES

Today I thought I would do two things for my readers.  I’m going to give you an at home core routine that you can use to supplement your existing workout.   But, before I give you this gem, I want to first talk a bit about the core.  Nothing irritates me more than people who think that the core consists of just your abdominal muscles. Everyone thinks that because everyone and their mother is trying to promote and sell core workouts as the next big thing without REALLY ever explaining what the heck it is.  I don’t want to bore you with lots of science but I do want to try to clear up a misconception here.  The core includes your abdominal muscles but is NOT limited to your abdominal muscles.  The term core refers to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and there are actually 29 muscles attached to the complex that act to stabilize the connection between the hip, pelvis and back.  So, while you see people in the gym doing five thousand crunches and sit ups thinking they are going to get a strong core, what they are really working there are just the rectus abdominis and possibly the obliques.  Great for a six pack BUT not great for protecting your back.  The problem is those exercises don’t do much in terms of spinal stabilization.  Indeed, crunches and sit ups put a tremendous amount of pressure on the spine and that’s why physical therapists, chiropractors and the like often recommend NOT doing them.  So, I have my clients work on stabilization exercises first which focus on the transverse abdominis, deep spinal muscles and the glutes. The transverse abdominis is the deepest of all the abdominal muscles and it the first muscle to fire for all human movement. It attaches directly to your spine and is responsible for protecting your back.  Kind of important, right?  Well, I like to think so.  That’s why I train my clients to build these muscles before I will even discuss doing flexion exercises, like crunches and sit ups.  Side note: At one fitness seminar I attended, the speaker said that crunches put 30% more strain on your spine than OSHA safety standards allow for workers! Hmmmm… if that’s true, it’s certainly a POWERFUL statement and something to think about.  All that said, here is a core stabilization routine for you.  It’s safe, effective and I’ve seen GREAT results for both myself and my clients with it.

Start with a 5 minute warm-up to get the blood flowing.

Set one: Go through entire set one time

3 Plank (15 second increments working up to 1 minute)

3 Side Plank on each side (15 second increments working up to 1 minute)

Set two: Go through entire set twice

15 prone cobra

15 bird dogs

Set three:  Go through entire set three times

15 Dirty Dog on each side & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep on each side

15 Donkey Kicks on each side & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep on each side

15 Glute Bridges & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep

Most of these exercises are demonstrated online if you are not familiar with them and I’m always available for questions.  Check out exercise library.  Most of the exercises are on there.  I hope you’ve learned something today.  Now, get moving!


Ready to get moving?  This is a more advanced workout and not intended for beginners.  However, you newbies may find a move or two that you like.  It is a great mix of toning exercises combined with burst of cardio to keep that heart rate pumping. The only thing you need is a set of dumbbells and you will be good to go.  As always, before doing this or any other fitness program, you should consult with your doctor before starting.

Dynamic Warm up – Perform each of these moves for 30 seconds

Frankenstein walk

Jump Jack

Seal Jack

Butt Kicks

High Knee Runs


Set One – Perform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps. Repeat the entire set three times.

Dirty Dog – 12

Single Leg Glute Bridge – 12 each leg

Frog Squats

Set Two – Perform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps or time. Repeat the entire set three times.

Jumping Jacks – 1 minute

Push up – As many as you can

Mountain Climbers – 30 reps

Set Three – Perform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps or time. Repeat the entire set three times.

Sumo Squat

Dumbbell Hamstring Curl

Side Standing Crunch (add a dumbbell here 5-8 pounds)  – 30 seconds each side

Set Four – Perform each exercise for the prescribed time. Repeat the entire set three times.

Speed Skaters – 30 seconds

High Knee Runs – 45 seconds

Butt Kicks – 30 seconds

Set FivePerform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps. Repeat the entire set three times. The first two exercises are very challenging.  I suggest you start with lightweight.

Twisting Lateral Shoulder Raise
12 reps

Cheerleader – 12 reps

Alternating Bicep Curls  – 20 reps

Set Six – Perform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps. Repeat the entire set three times

Alternating T-stand Push Ups – As many as you can

Supermans – 12 reps

Frog crunches – 12 reps(explained in this article which I think is useful by itself)

Mountain Climbers – 30 reps

And, that’s it.  Remember to stretch!!! I hope you enjoy this.  If you have any questions, let me know.

There’s an ugly little rumor going around gyms that foam rollers are just for massage or just for us girls.  I think the rumor got started because most people don’t know the science behind foam rolling.  Honestly, I used a foam roller for years and never knew why it worked until I started studying for my CPT.  To clear things up, I thought I would try to explain something scientific.  Note the word “try.”  I’m just learning the scientific principles behind the things I’ve done for years and it’s a whole new language.  So, I hope I can make this make sense for you folks. Here we go.

The process of using a foam roller is actually a form of self-myofascial release (SMR).  To understand the point of foam rolling you first have to understand what SMR is.  However, before we can discuss SMR, you have to know what fascia is.  Fascia is a sheath that interconnects throughout all cells of the body and surrounds muscles, bones, and joints which as a results gives our body structural integrity and strength.  Over time, the fascia builds up knots, trigger points and loses its flexibility for a variety of reasons.  This can lead to pain, reduced flexibility and decreased athletic performance.

Two basic neural receptors – muscle spindles and golgi tendo organs (GTOs) – are found in muscle tissue.  Stimulation of the GTOs past a certain threshold inhibits the muscle spindle activity, and decreases muscular tension.  This is known as autogenic inhibition.  This process occurs when SMR is used to apply tension to the muscle to help it relax and improve function.  This is what you are actually doing when foam rolling.

It is also important to learn the proper technique for foam rolling.  You don’t want to simply roll quickly back and forth as I see so many people do.  Instead, roll at a slow pace and stop and bear down on any tender spots (“trigger points”). Hold on the spot for about 20-30 seconds or until the pain starts to diminish. SMR does not work over night.  It takes time and patience to restore your body back to normal.  You will notice that over time these trigger points will diminish are you will begin to feel better.  You may want to try using the foam roller before and after physical activity to reduce muscle soreness and enhance recovery.  Most gyms have foam rollers now but if not, you can actually purchase your own for around $20.

Here is some more great information and demonstrations of the foam roller in use.  So, that’s it for me for now. I hope that this has help you to see (if you didn’t already know) that foam rollers aren’t just for massage and that they are great for both men and women.

Hi all.  Happy New Year!!!  I hope everyone had a great night and are ready to work.  Bit of advice – Leave 2010 in 2010.  Start fresh.  It’s a New Year and a perfect time to work on the new you!  Some of you have asked for new bodyweight workouts and I thought today would be a perfect time.  Here is an explosive workout that you can do right at home.  It’s a bit on the intermediate to advanced side so remember to modify as needed.  Most of all – have fun with it.  As always, if you have any questions, hit me up here or on Twitter @Brooklyn_1012.  Let’s get it!

Let’s start with a dynamic warm up.  The words in red are links to demonstrations.  Click on them if you need help.  We are going to go through this once without stopping:

Jog in place (45 seconds)

20 jumping jacks

20 walking lunges

5 inchworms

20 Reverse Lunges with Twist

15 squats

40 mountain climbers

20 hip swings on each side

20 Glute Bridges

I hope you are warm by now.  If not, go through that one more time.

When you are ready, let’s go with set 1:

45 second high knee run in place (knee over hip) – LAND SOFTLY!!

15 push ups (go to your knees or do wall push up if these are too hard for you)

20 squat kicks

30 bicycles

Repeat Set 1 three times with no rest in between exercises and 60 seconds of rest between sets.  When you have done all three sets, rest 90 seconds and then move on to Set 2:

Jump rope 45 seconds (If you don’t have a jump rope, that’s fine.  You can mimic the movement)

12 Walking push ups

60 Mountain Climbers

24 side lunges (12 on each side)

1 minute plank (If you can’t hold 1 min, just hold it as long as you can)

Repeat Set 2 three times with no rest in between exercises and 60 seconds of rest between sets.  When you have done all three sets, rest 90 seconds and then move on to Set 3:

1 minute Wall Squat

15 squat holds (Perform squat and hold at bottom for 15 seconds)

12 bird dog holds

Repeat Set 3 three times with no rest in between exercises and 60 seconds of rest between sets.  Then, take a two minute rest because the last thing you are going to do is what I call a burn out set.  Burn out sets are really challenging but they are designed to keep your body burning fat for hours after your work is done.  If you are already wiped, stop here.  But if you want more, here we go:

15 burpees

20 jump squats

60 mountain climbers

20 jump lunges

Repeat the burnout set up to three times.  NO rest until you are done with all three sets!  I told you it was hard.

And that’s it!!  You’re done.  Good work folks.

#JanGTD Guide

Posted: December 26, 2010 in GENERAL, WORKOUTS & CHALLENGES

Hi folks.  I’m so honored to be a part of #JanGTD and I love what @FatGirlvsWorld has been doing with you in past #GTD challenges.  For #JanGTD, we are going to be picking it up a notch and adding in some strength training routines.   Although cardio is great, strength training is necessary to a well rounded fitness routine.  With that said, I’ve set up some great workouts for that have been separated into three categories – beginner, intermediate and expert.  Because I can not be there with you, please use your own judgment as to what category you belong in and you are going to have to be my rock stars and teach yourself the routines.  It is always recommended that you consult a fitness professional or physician before beginning any new fitness program and you are engaging in this program at your own risk. The best thing is always to have an individual program designed for you to meet your individual needs and goals. However, since I can’t be there to do that, these are great general fitness routines to get you started.

That said, I’m super excited for all you.  This is going to be a great learning experience as well as an opportunity to take your fitness to the next level.  In preparing these workouts for you, my goal was not only to help you to get into better shape but to help you start to train.  I’ve always said there is a big difference between exercising and training.  Exercising you are just going through the motions.  In training, you are working towards a specific goal and gaining knowledge along the way.  So, the exercises I chose are designed to not only get you in shape but to teach you how to move, balance and work with your body.  I hope that comes across as you are going through #JanGTD.  I realize that some may not be familiar with some of the moves I chosen.  That’s ok because this a GREAT time for you to learn.  You have a few options on how to do that.  First, I’m ALWAYS available to my readers and I will extend that offer to any of #JanGTD participants.  You can post comments with questions, email me at or tweet me @brooklyn_1012.  If you happen to be a New York Sports Club member, we can actually set up a time to meet at the location where I work as a Floor Trainer.   I’d be happy to walk you through anything you need.  Other than me, there are other options available to you.  Google and YouTube are amazing resources.  You would be surprised at what you can find with a simple search.  To you beginners, I definitely recommend YouTube versus Google because I think you need to see the moves rather than just read about them.  I also suggest that you be careful about what videos you rely on.  Try to choose videos prepared by trainers rather than some show off looking to brag about how fabulous they are.  Trust me – you will know the difference when you see it.  Another amazing resource is the American Council on Exercise’s website.  Their address is Many of my moves are from there. I strongly encourage you to view their exercise library which can be found under the Ace GetFit tab (fifth from the left on the menu at the top of their page).  Yet another useful website is  For you advanced warriors out there, check out and  I think you will like them.

To get you guys started, I want to throw a few things your way.  I selected what I thought were the move complicated moves and am including here either a video or a website where you can view the exercises.  When needed, just cut and paste the address into your browser.

To make it easy to find them, you will see that everything is divided into categories.  So, the beginner moves are listed under beginner, intermediate under intermediate and expert under you guessed it – expert.  Let’s roll:


1.  Three-way lunge – Note:  This person is using a weight here. You don’t have to.  In fact, I prefer you don’t ESPECIALLY is you have never done lunges before.  All three lunges (front, side and back) have to finished to complete one rep.  This is a toughie but a great learning tool for you newbies.

2.  Dirty Dog

3.  Superman

4.  Plank

Folks, if I had to pick a favorite exercise, this would be it. In my humble opinion, this is the most effective ab exercise out there.  It is super important to strength your core.  If you do not have stability there, well forget it.  Please please master this one.  It’s challenging at first but  you’ll thank me later.  ACE lists this as an intermediate exercise.  However, there are differences in opinion on that throughout the industry.  I can tell you, again in my humble opinion, that this is one of the first exercises I did and I believe a beginner can absolutely do this.


1.  Push up with T-Raise – The video below was the best explanation I could find but it only shows the T-Raise.  However, what I want you guys actually doing is a push up with the T-Raise.  So when you are in the push up position do a push up AND THEN go into the T-Raise on one side, come back to the center, do another push up, and then do a T-Raise on the alternate side.

2.  Mason Twist

3.  Reverse lunge with Knee Raise – Practice this one.  It’s not easy as first.  However, this is great learning tool.  It forces many different muscle groups to work together. If you master this, a whole new world of exercises with be available to you.

4.  Woodchoppers

5.  Sumo squat with side kick – Here is a video and text explanation of the move.  One thing I wanted to point out though.  You don’t need to squat to parallel at first if you can’t.  But, it’s great if you can because that will add to the effectiveness of this move. Second, you don’t need to kick as high as those demonstrating the exercise.  At first, you can shoot for kicking above the ankle, then the knee and then go for it.  So keep that progression in mind if you don’t have that flexibility quite yet.,,20410609,00.html

6.  Squat Rows – This is another GREAT exercise.  It works so many muscles all the same time so doing this is going to super charge your workout.  Practice, practice, practice.  Oh and ladies, just because it’s published in Men’s Health does NOT mean you can’t do it.  Matter of fact, this is an exercise I’ve included in my personal workouts for nearly three years.

7.  Hand to Foot Stability Ball Pass – A couple of notes here.  This is a tough one. If you can’t do it, try mastering just the upper body crunch and lower body crunch separately.  On the other hand, if you find that you have mastered this, try doing it with straight legs.  That brings the move to a whole new level.

EXPERT – Many of the moves in this category are challenging.  They have earned their place in the Expert category.  I can do them but I was training for over a year before I even tried them.  Unless the intermediate exercises are super easy for you, I would not attempt these quite yet.  But don’t worry, we’ll get you there.  All in good time 🙂

1.  Iron Cross

2.  Hanging Leg Raise

3.  Bulgarian Split Squat – This is a hard one.  I recommend trying this one without weight at first.  Get used to and good at the form.  Add the weight when you feel ready.  In adding weight, please start out lightly.

4.  Clean and press and Deadlifts

5.  One arm snatch

6.  Good Mornings

7.  Speed skaters

8.  Jump Lunges – The video demonstrates a weighted version of this move.  However, if you have never done these before, start out with no weights.

Read first and then watch video below

9.  Box Jumps

10.  One-arm Dumbbell Swings – If you need to, you can swing with both hands until you are ready to do these with just one-arm

Well folks with that I’ve done my part.  Now, it’s time for you to put the work in.  Remember, I’m here for you if you need help.  Let’s get moving! Go to @fatgirlvsworld’s blog to read about the challenge and add your name to her spreadsheet to get started.

New Challenge for You

Posted: December 22, 2010 in WORKOUTS & CHALLENGES

Hey folks.  I found another great challenge for you courtesy of Sweat and the City’s website.  Check it out here:

It’s another workout you can do right at home with no equipment.  From what I see it’s the first of many to come.  I did this today and loved it.  You want to go the link and scroll down a bit to see the video post on December 21.  It’s called the Holiday Workout #1.  Stress Busting Circuit Training.

Ok enough talking.  Time for you to get to work 😉

THIS ONE IS FOR MY ADVANCED READERS ONLY.  I don’t suggest my beginners try this.  Instead, you folks keep it in mind for when you get stronger.

This is one of my absolute favorites.  I used to do this combination all of the time in law school and haven’t tried it awhile.  It’s so advanced that I actually could not find the exercises combined anywhere on the internet.  So, I am going to do my best to describe it for you.

I call the move the burpee hanging leg raise.  First, what’s a burpee and hanging leg raise?  If you don’t know, check out this site and scroll down to view exercises #13 and #14. Both of these moves are hard enough on their own.  Of course then, the challenge would be to combine the two.  So, here’s how it’s going to go.

1.  Find a chin up bar.  Stand underneath it.  That’s easy enough, right?

2.  Perform one burpee BUT when you jump up to standing the idea is to jump on so that you are hanging from the bar.  You may have to do this in two moves.  One – jump up to standing from the burpee.  Two – reach for the bar and hang.  However you do it just get up there and then move to step 3.

3.  So now that you are hanging from the bar I want you to perform one hanging leg raise.  Jump back down from the bar and start over.

The idea is to make this as fluid as possible.  It should go burpee, hanging leg raise, burpee, hanging leg raise.

The goal is to see how many you can do before you have to stop.  I’m going to give it a shot and post my reps here.  If you want to go for it, let me know how you did!  Good luck.