Arms for Days

Happy August! I’m happy to say I wrote a blog post for every week day throughout the month of July. I’m back and trying to be as consistent as possible. And now…

Have 20 minutes and a pair of dumbbells? You can crush this arm workout.

Many clients come in complaining about their arms, particularly the underbelly. Some of this loosens with age, or in my case, weight loss (from being stretched for so long), but it is not impossible to tighten up everything.

When I say arms, we aim to target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Chest and back would still be considered upper body, but I will provide a nice push/pull workout another day.

Here is a quick routine to follow to get the arms you desire:

Front & Lateral Raises

Yes, perform both in sequence. Enjoy the burning sensation in your shoulders.

Plank Shoulder Taps

Holding a plank is hard, now add some movement. To keep too much pressure off your shoulders, lean back into your heels, keeping your hips down. Trying hard not to rock your body, lift one hand to the opposite shoulder, alternating.

Hammer Curls to Shoulder Presses

The trick with any form of bicep curls is to keep your arms close to your body and keep everything still, except for the forearms. Don’t rock your body back and forth. If you do, the weight is too heavy and not hitting the intended target.

High Curls

I enjoy this exercise because I can see the muscles pulsing as they get to work. Also hits those shoulders for the double whammy.

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Tricep Extensions

Again, keep everything steady except for the forearms. Elbows nice and tight, as well.

Tricep Pushbacks

Bend the knees, drop your hips and butt to maintain a nice, flat back, and slowly press your arms behind you as far as you can while still keeping proper technique. Do not swing your arms, it won’t be as effective.

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If you have a lighter pair of dumbbells, 5 pounds each for example, perform each exercise in 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds per set before moving onto the next, OR perform circuit style and rest for 1 minute after each set.

If you have a heavier pair of dumbbells- and I would encourage you not to be afraid of lifting heavy weights- try 3 sets of 10 repetitions each.

Don’t forget that leg day will follow….

Arm Day

I kicked off a new workout routine and it’s been killer. While I love a good total body workout, there’s something to be said about the effectiveness of the split routine.

For this training schedule, I opted to break things up as follows:

Day One: Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders

Day Two: Quads and Glutes

Day Three: Chest and Back

Day Four: Hamstrings and Ab/Adductors

Day Five: Total Body

For each day, I always include core and some form of cardio. The breakdown is roughly 30x10x20—30 minutes strength training, 10 minutes core, 20 minutes cardio.

On arm day, I break each segment up by muscle group and perform three exercises each. One at the most heaviest with 4 sets of 8 reps, the second with medium weight at 4 sets of 10 reps, and the third at the lightest weight at 4 sets of 12 reps.

Take a look:

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After three core exercises- incline oblique lean downs, plank walkouts, bicycle crunches- I hope on the bike to spin it out for around 20+ minutes.

Give it a try! Check back next week for the next portion.

Chef Caitlin

In another life, maybe I should have been a chef. Let’s discuss.

At breakfast, I put together this bowl of oatmeal and cooked it in the microwave…about five seconds too long because a bit spilled out over the sides. But only a little- every great chef has a kitchen mishap or two. Topped with banana, raisins, and walnuts, it was a tasty treat.

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For a snack, I pulled the microwave trick again and cooked an egg and put it atop a piece of toast and cheese.

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I happened to enjoy it so much that I had another with my quinoa, chickpea, and veggie lunch.

I was raring for dinner after my workout and grilled a piece of cod in a buttery, garlic sauce and placed it on two corn tortillas with a drizzle of soyaki. On the side, some green beans and a giant caesar salad made with baby spinach leaves, a sprinkling of parmesan, caesar dressing, and crushed tostitos.

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They may not look restaurant-worthy, but the dishes tasted great and I think that merits some points.

Speaking of my workout, it was upper body day, so I worked my biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, and back. For the bi’s, tri’s, and shoulders I did two exercises per muscle group. For the chest and back, I worked three exercises, all three sets of twelve reps. To top things off, I did three core exercises and ended with 20 minutes on the bike.

Happy December- it’s officially Christmas time! No matter that it’s in the sixties and I’m finding this “chilly.”

Homemade It Up!

Well, hello there! 

Let’s start off with yesterday’s source of strength. For my workout, I ran outside and it just happened to be as it was growing dark, so the beautiful moonlight shone over me. It took me awhile to get into things because I was on the track and feeling a little bored, but as it got darker, I felt stronger, so I was able to push myself through my four miles. I actually would have been able to run longer had I not had to pee (!), but I sprinted the last leg of the lap and have never in my life ran so hard. I felt like I was flying and it was an amazing thing!

My lunch yesterday was a product of me feeling creative. I put a salad together, poached two eggs, and enjoyed them altogether. I also had a slice of cinnamon raisin toast to top things off. It was quite tasty!

  
Dinner after my moonlit run was pizza and salad. I guess I was so excited about it that I forgot to snap a picture. I’m pretty sure you know what it looks like.

I woke up this morning with a hankering for waffles, but I decided to go the homemade route. It was really easy because of the Kodiak Cake mix, which is an all natural pancake/waffle mix. All I needed to do was add water. For a little spice, I added in some cinnamon to the batter. I topped the waffles with a little butter and syrup. Blueberries and bananas were my fruit source and for some protein, I had a cup of Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and some grapes. This is my favorite yogurt flavor! How pretty are those waffles?!

  
Harry Potter is always creeping in the corner in this house.

Breakfast was followed by a great workout. I started with a kettlebell circuit and performed three sets of sixteen reps each. The moves were swings, goblet squats to high pulls, tricep push backs, shoulder to knee presses, kickback rows, and weighted step ups. I moved onto some medicine ball workouts, also three sets of sixteen reps. This circuit was side lunges with arrow chops, wall tosses with split squats, wall rotations, mermaid raises, elevated hip lifts, and Russian twists. I was sweating hard by the time I hopped into the pool for a half hour lap swim.

Before heading off to work, I had some leftovers for lunch. I finished off my chickpea medley and a little bowl of macaroni and cheese. Delicious!

Now off to grab some dinner and spend some quality time with my textbook. Cheers!

Strength in Nature

Yesterday’s workout consisted of a strength training circuit that focused on moves meant to support the big six I did the day before. I focused on higher reps and lower weights, running through the circuit four times with twelve reps each. I did bicep curls, shoulder raises, tricep extensions, front raises, weighted lunges, and deadlift squats to high raises. After, I ran through a core circuit, same amount of sets and reps- kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, v push ups, hundreds to v ups, hip lifts, and bicycle crunches. For cardio, I hopped in the pool for a 40 minute lap swim.

At home, I was glad to have leftovers for lunch so that I wasn’t in a rush to get off to work. This chickpea dish is delicious, though next time, I think I’ll be more contemplative when it comes to spices. I like spices, but I don’t know how to utilize them in my recipes, so more research must be done! A piece of buttered raisin toast and a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of grapes completed my meal.

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I’m loving all the standing work entails! My hips and butt don’t feel as sore from sitting all day and I can already feel my legs grow stronger as they get accustomed to standing so much again. Nothing was quite like teaching when it came to standing/running around all day!

Dinner was a plate with crockpot buffalo chicken, broccoli, asparagus, and red peppers with a drizzle of ranch over everything. I had a separate bowl for some macaroni and cheese. After a long day, it was a great way to end things.

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I curled up to read for awhile after before drifting off to sleep.

This morning, I took the time to whip up my favorite peanut butter pancakes. They were delightful topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut and paired with a side of bananas and blueberries. I’m still full with these protein and nutrient dense cakes! They’re quite pretty too!

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Now’s time to talk about what gave me strength yesterday, something I promised in another post, but didn’t get to it last night. After work, I was walking outside with my friend when we saw lightning a way’s away from us. It was strange because there was no thunder and it wasn’t raining, so it was just one of those heat things. I tried to get a picture that captured the beauty of the illuminated night sky, but I don’t think I did it justice.

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Standing in a field, surrounded by nature, filled me with the realization of how insignificant the small and petty things in life are. We always need reminders of this. The gift of having seen this lightning show for just a few minutes helped me to see that strength is not always something we seek. Sometimes it entails going out into the world and living in it. These small blessings surround us every day.

*A brief aside: There may be good in this world, but terrible things do still happen, like earlier this morning during the news broadcast. I don’t know why we keep hurting each other and why we remain immobilized from making changes. Living in a world where we’re afraid to live in it (and validated in that fear), is not much of a life at all. For now, we can focus on the victims. Be kinder, love harder, do good.

A Moment and then Movement

Before I begin this week’s Workout Wednesday, I want to take a moment and tell you that today would have been my Nana’s 90th birthday. We lost her thirteen years ago earlier this month and I still miss her dearly. No doubt she is celebrating with a drink and her sisters up in Heaven. My family speculates that she is where I get my penchant for celebrities, parties, and conspiracy theories. There really was no one quite like her and I am grateful for the eleven years I did have with her, reading People Magazine over her shoulder, trying to learn how to write the letter A with her frustrated because I kept writing it upside down, watching her try to get off the moving log ride at Storyland in time then having to go again because she couldn’t and then again when her horse in the merry go ride stopped at the highest point, and the time she had to swat the ants off my ass when I sat in a pile, laughing and muttering obscenities under her breath. Everything she did, she did with a smile, gentle care, and with a touch of sarcasm, which are other facets I hope I get from her. She was one of the strongest, most selfless, and most loving people that I have had the pleasure of knowing, and so it is with bittersweet emotions that I say, Happy Birthday.

Now to take a more judging stance, at the gym, I just witnessed a man stack the barbell with a ton of weight, do two reps, wait five minutes in between each set and only do that three times. He struggled through them and didn’t even complete them fully, which makes me question what his intention is.

When weight lifting, I’ve read many different accounts, and I myself feel as though it is important to push yourself, but only to a point. You want to be able to get through a number of reps, rest, and do a couple of sets of each move. If you put on too much weight and can’t do the moves properly or fully you will hurt yourself and/or make very little improvement. To each their own, I suppose.

From what I’ve read, if you can’t do a move at a certain weight at least five times in a row properly, then it’s too much weight. It just gets me when people feel as though exercise is about killing yourself, when what you really want to do is improve. Working out and pushing your body is so important, but not to the extent of your health!

This past week, I played kickball and found out that I’m actually pretty clumsy. As I was running to first base, I almost tripped over myself (the ball was caught in the air anyways) and then I stumbled trying to field as well. I did make one pretty good catch and was feeling pretty good about my abilities until of course I was running to second on a play and remembered my fateful fall. I am glad to say I have made a full recovery and there has been no pain in the past week!

The next day, I did some strength training and a quick elliptical workout. Since my college roommate was visiting for the weekend, on Saturday, all we did was walk around, which is acceptable, but I was raring to go on Sunday.

That day, I did another strength and elliptical workout, along with some core exercises. I’ve been trying to increase my plank, and I am now up to about a minute and fifteen to a minute and thirty, though I feel like last week I was doing two full minutes. I think that this is partly because instead of only planking once, I include them in my core circuit so in the end, I’m actually doing more time spread out.

Monday, I was loving the fall air and went out for a run after a long walk with the dog. I came back and did some body strength and core moves, including some Yoga.

The next day, I went to the gym and did a few moves with the medicine ball, including my hated burpees. This move is the pits, but I included a quick ball lift and throw down to make it even more fun (sarcasm noted). At the end, I did some box jumps and jump rope before heading down to the pool to swim laps. It feels as though it takes a long time to swim a mile, and maybe it is, but I have been getting faster. Only 43.5 minutes this time around and I was huffing and heaving by the end of it. I completed my day with an even longer walk with the dog, which left me feeling a bit parched.

Today, I went through another strength workout. To change it up a bit, I incorporated eight moves using heavy weights and performed them in five sets of ten reps and then did eight body strength moves in four sets of twelve reps. I was feeling nice and sweaty, but strong, after and went out for a quick two mile run to try and improve my speed. My legs were feeling tired, but I’m definitely seeing an improvement! I topped it off with a mile walk to recover.

The biggest issue I’ve been dealing with these week are respiratory problems that seem to be correlated to my allergies. I have always suffered through spring, but never summer or fall before this past year. An allergy pill will usually help, but I needed to switch products because during random parts of the day and night, my lungs felt as though there were pressure on them and at times I was wheezing. I can handle to disgusting nose dripping because I can just blow it away, but the constricted breathing is scary. Luckily, they did not happen at times during my workout, and I never would have exercised in that moment, so it leads me to believe that it’s not anything more serious than allergies. With a new brand, I have been feeling improvements. Let’s hope there won’t be any allergies in winter at least! I want to eat apples again!