Try this great exercise that will give you buns of steel!
Romanian Split Lunge
This exercise will provide a deep stretch for your hip flexors and quadriceps while strengthening the glutes. It works your glutes intensely, and stronger glutes are critical for proper function for anyone who exercises regularly.
To start, prop the toes of one foot onto a flat surface that is about one foot in height and placed about two feet behind you (therefore creating a 120-degree angle in your leg). While keeping your bent leg and toes secure, stabilize your standing leg on the ground for support. Place your hands crossed and flat against your chest. Next, slowly lower your torso and lunge downward, bending your back knee as low to the ground as possible. Pause at the bottom of the lunge for a solid second while keeping optimal posture without leaning forward.
Then, rise up from the lunge to the starting position to complete the exercise. To make this more of a challenge, try to have your bent knee touch the ground gently with each lunge. On the other hand, if your balance is not quite there, use a pole or the wall to help with stabilization. Executing four sets total of two sets on each side performing 12 repetitions should be a great goal.
Swimsuit Ready Challenge
This exercise is part of our Swimsuit Ready Challenge (April 2-30, 2012). Do this exercise and comment below “I did this!” to be entered to win our $100 and $50 giveaways. You may enter up to one time per day through April 30th.
Also – be sure to share this on Facebook, Pinterest and other sites to let your friends cheer you on or – better yet – join in on the challenge so they can hang out on the beach with you this summer! read more →
Ready for swimsuit season? Dreading the thousands of crunches you think you need to do to get there? Stop!
I’m like everyone else – I hate sit-ups and crunches. But, probably not for the same reason that everyone else hates them.
I hate sit-ups and crunches because they are too easy… yep, you heard me, too easy.
Cheating on Your Abs
It’s just too easy to cheat yourself when doing sit-ups and crunches. Admit it – you don’t squeeze as many muscles as you could as hard you can with every crunch.
And really, all that you’re doing is cheating yourself out of the benefits of a good ab workout. And – ug – if we expect anything from all of our intense workout exercises – it’s f#%@ing awesome abs!
Do Ab Exercises You Can Feel
There are two types of ab and core exercises that work – and you’ll know they work because you’ll feel the burn.
- Big, Repetitive Movements
- Isometric Holds
The most popular of these is the plank. Holding a plank requires the engagement of most of the muscles throughout your core. Plus, it engages muscles in the legs, arms and shoulders.
Challenge yourself by holding a plank as long as you can, and then beat your time day after day. Every second counts… think about it. In if you can hold for 30 seconds today, add 1 second per day and by this time next month, you’ll be planking for a full minute.
Change it up switching your hand and/or foot position:
- Place your elbows and forearms down on the ground (your hands under your face) – and watch that your tail doesn’t raise.
- Lift and hold one foot up about an inch off the ground. Hold for as long as you can and switch feet.
Wall Press Leg Lifts
- Sit on floor with lower back against a wall, knees slightly bent and feet planted wider than shoulder-width apart. Place hands on floor between legs and squeeze abs.
- Press into floor with fingertips and lift feet about 6 inches. Make it easier: Lift and lower left foot; then repeat with right to complete 1 rep.
Slow-Rise Head Stand
Now, this is one of my current challenges! Getting from a “dolphin” (basically a downward dog with your forearms and head on the floor) into a headstand without kicking your feet… you just slowly raise them upward.
The woman above shows the move one leg at a time. This helps get the feel for balance and gives your neck and back a break until your abs are strong enough to hold both legs.
Once you’re ready to try this, start with both feet on the floor, and your head and forearms ready to support your weight. Slowly bring both knees into your chest, and raise them together into the air. Easy – right? Haha – not at all!
Feel the Burn!
Give these a try and feel the burn in your abs and throughout your core! Bye-bye easy crunches and hello swimsuit season!
Most women would love to have a closet full of the season’s trendiest heels, boots or sandals…
Me? Sure, I like the fun, sexy, trendy shoes – but I love my sneaks!
And, if you’re doing a combination of exercises each week – you really do need the right pair of shoes for each type of activity you’ll be doing. It’s not a conspiracy to get you to buy more shoes – there is a difference between a trainer, a running shoe and a walking shoe!
Here… I speak from hundreds of miles of experience after twice training for and walking the Komen 3-Day (breast cancer walk). It’s 20 miles per day over three days… for a total of 60 miles.
Trust me, a good walking shoe makes the difference between wanting to pass out by the end of each day – and wanting to cut off your feet and then pass out by the end of each day.
Your walking shoes should be a 1/2 size larger than your normal shoe, have a sturdy bottom and be fit to the way your feet turn (in or out) when you take a step. This will help give your feet, ankles, knees and hips the support they need as you ask them to repeat the same motion over and over again as you walk. Preparing for the repetitive movement is the key here.
Running shoes should also be fit to the way your feet turn with each step, but they should be formed to your foot and offer you the proper ball and arch support to help your foot flex and absorb the impact each time you hit the pavement.
Personally, I like running shoes that are light. I used to think that heavier shoes would help absorb more shock, but for me, the lighter the shoe, the less shock I feel. Plus – it’s a lot easier to pick your feet up off the pavement when your shoes aren’t weighing you down!
I also pay a lot of attention to the rise of the back of the shoe. If it’s too high, it rubs my ankle bone and causes blisters. But, if it’s too low – the shoe can slip right off mid-run. As silly as you may feel, it’s not a bad idea to take a quick little jog through the store when you’re trying on a new shoe just to feel how it responds to your foot.
Finally, the fitness footwear makers are taking note of the growing trend of kickboxing and plyometric training – and have understood that we don’t want those clunky, heavy-soled cross trainers.
Now, you can easily find shoes designed to be light enough for 50 roundhouse kicks, but sturdy enough to support you as you shuffle and jab on your toes with a 9lb combat bar in your hands.
To find the right pair of shoes for you – try them on, get on your toes and jump up and down. Feel where your toes go and be sure that your foot doesn’t slide off of either side of the sole.
Also – consider the surface where you’ll be working out. The fitness classes at my gym are in a carpeted space. It’s a short-pile carpet and pretty stiff, but it’s carpet nonetheless. So, I chose a shoe that didn’t have a whole lot of treads on the bottom so that I wouldn’t trip over my own feet when switching from one motion to another.
If you’re working out on tile, wood or another flat and inherently slippery (before you even sweat all over it!) surface – you’ll want something designed to grip the floor. Look for lots of little treads and nubs on the bottom of the shoe.
Right – yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot. But, if you’re anything like me, your feet are just as sore as your shoulders after yoga from all of the work they do holding you in your poses.
I recently started wearing socks with little gripping dots on the bottom of them. They are black and have the toes all separated… so I feel a little goofy in them. But, they have really made a difference in my practice.
I feel like the treads help me plant my foot so that the focus of each pose isn’t concentrated in my scrunched up toes and arched sole as my foot tries to hang on to the mat. I can lay my foot flat and press deep into lunges without sliding or fighting the slide.
Also, I upgraded my mat to help ease the effects of the ground pushing back against me. Good thick mats can be 4-5 times more expensive than a normal mat – but they are worth every dime. Your feet and knees will thank you – and so will your hands and shoulders!
So, though yoga doesn’t really require the right “shoe”, it does help to have the right gear to support your feet in all the work they do for you in your practice.
Choose the Right Shoe for You
If you notice, I didn’t mention any brands or shoe models above. That’s because you have to pick the shoes that are right for you! Try them on, read the reviews online and buy the shoes that fit your foot, your gait, your exercise and your comfort.
Whatever you do, though – don’t ignore the important role that shoes play in the effectiveness and the safety of your workout!
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