My Gym Routine: Back

Welcome back to my little mini-series, My Gym Routine!
Today, I am letting you in on my favorite back exercises.
Here is the schedule of posts for your reference:
Mon 11.26.12 – Back
Mon 12.3.12 – Chest
Mon 12.10.12 – Triceps
Mon 12.17.12 – Abs
I find the back is often neglected in many people’s exercise routines. It is a very important area because your back controls your ability to do most anything. Think about someone who breaks their back – they’re not going to be walking, are they? Your back is also closely related to your core, the main muscles that keep your body in balance. A weak back can lead to some very unfortunate injuries. Keep yours strong by focusing on it a few times a week, with moves such as these:
Back Extensions
Back extensions are great for the lower back as well as your abs! Build a strong lower back and you will notice a flatter tummy. I typically grab a weight plate anywhere up to 20 lbs and hold it with my arms crossed across my chest, but if you’re a beginner to working your back, simply putting your hands behind your head {shown} will keep you from doing too much too soon. For this exercise, I ai to do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Bent-Over Row
Grab a barbell {I use about 30 lbs}, hold with your palms facing outward and pull to your chest, then slowly release back down to starting position. Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps.
Lat Pulldown
Using a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width, grab a pulldown bar. Keep your back straight and sit up tall. Exhale as you pull the bar down to the top of your chest. Slowly rise back to starting position. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps with a weight that has you to failure by the 15th rep of each set.
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My Gym Routine: Shoulders

Welcome back to my little mini-series, My Gym Routine!

Today, I am letting you in on my favorite shoulder exercises.

Here is the schedule of posts for your reference:
Mon 11.5.12 – Glutes
Mon 11.12.12 – Legs {Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves} 
Mon 11.19.12 – Shoulders
Mon 11.26.12 – Back
Mon 12.3.12 – Chest
Mon 12.10.12 – Triceps
Mon 12.17.12 – Abs

I think shoulders are one of the more overlooked body parts when it comes to working out. Many of us, especially women, tend to focus on our trouble zones (legs, butt, tummy, etc), but it is extremely important to build your shoulder muscles to protect the tissues and joints that hold them together. Shoulders are a common area for injuries to occur. Simply lifting something wrong with a weak shoulder can cause a tear that only a surgery could repair.

Here are the exercises I recommend you do once or twice a week to keep your shoulders shapely and strong:

Front Shoulder Raises


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I typically grab a pair of light weights {3-5 lbs} and do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

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For the lateral raises, I do the same as the front raises – 3 sets of 15 reps with a light weight.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

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For presses, I go a little heavier, usually around 10 lbs each arm and do 3 sets of 15.

My Gym Routine: Legs

Welcome back to my little mini-series, My Gym Routine!

Today, I am letting you in on my favorite leg exercises.

Here is the schedule of posts for your reference:
Mon 11.5.12 – Glutes
Mon 11.12.12 – Legs {Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves}
Mon 11.19.12 – Shoulders
Mon 11.26.12 – Back
Mon 12.3.12 – Chest
Mon 12.10.12 – Triceps
Mon 12.17.12 – Abs

For me personally, legs {and glutes} are the areas of my body that I feel need the most consistent effort as it seems that’s where the “junk” likes to strike first. I actually do my glute and leg exercises at least twice a week {with at least 48 hrs between to allow sufficient recovery}. The other body groups get one day each…and abs are done every day.

Here are some of my favorite leg exercises that I find the most effective:

Step Ups

For this exercise, I typically use a step and risers. I’m fairly tall at 5’8″, so I like to use 5-6 risers on each side. I recommend a height that puts your thigh parallel to the floor when you set your foot on the bench, but some prefer a little lower, and that’s OK too. To perform this exercise, step your foot onto the bench and slowly, using your thigh muscles, lift yourself up. Go back down and right back up again, concentrating on using the thigh, and not your momentum, to lift yourself. Do 12-15 times and then switch legs. Do 3 sets on each leg.

Plyometrics – Platform Hops

Find bench with a height you are comfortable with for jumping onto. To prep for the jump, squat a little, and using your leg power, jump onto the box in one swift motion. Step back down slowly and do it again. Complete 10-15 jumps, rest, and then do another set. I recommend 3 sets.

Calf Raises

Don’t neglect those calves! Start in a standing position and simply lift up to your tip toes. You can also do this while standing on a bench with your heels hanging over to get a longer range of motion. I like to use a staircase or step bench. Do 20-25 reps, rest and repeat for 3 sets. You can also try single leg calf raises. Optional: Hold dumbbells at your sides.

Hip Abductor/Hip Adductor

These are great machines for your inner and outer thighs. I usually do 3 sets of 20-25 reps each. I also like to switch between machines during sets, i.e. one set of adductor, straight to one set of abductor, without rest in between to save time. It’s otherwise known as a super-set.

Lying Leg Curls

There are a few different machines for leg curls, but I prefer the lying leg curl machine. I feel like I get more work done with those. For these, I complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps, making sure my last rep of each set is to failure {meaning, I can’t possibly do one more – it may take a few times until you figure out what amount of weight that is for you}.

Do you have any great leg exercises to share? What are your favorites?

My Gym Routine: Glutes

I thought I’d start a short and sweet series called My Gym Routine to give y’all a little insight into my gym workouts. I’ll be dividing it up by body area. My hope is that you might find some inspiration and effective moves for your own gym routine.

Note: Many of these exercises can also be done at home with little to no equipment and a little improvisation. 

Here is the schedule of posts for your reference:
Mon 11.5.12 – Glutes
Mon 11.12.12 – Legs {Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves}
Mon 11.19.12 – Shoulders
Mon 11.26.12 – Back
Mon 12.3.12 – Chest
Mon 12.10.12 – Triceps
Mon 12.17.12 – Abs

First body area I am going to start with is the one I like to work the most: my glutes. When I’m working my glutes at the gym, that also means it’s leg day because I always work those together.

Bridges

Start lying on the floor with your knees bent with your heels no more than a few inches from your bottom. Slowly lift your hips, concentrating on contracting your glute muscles to do so. Give it a tight squeeze at the top, hold a few seconds and slowly bring back down. That’s one rep. I aim to do 25 reps per set, and 3 sets total. For an added challenge, grab a bar weight and hold it on your lower abdomen while performing this exercise.

Dumbbell Squats

Grab a set of medium weights and hold them at your sides. Slowly sit back as if there is a chair behind you, keeping back straight and knees behind the toes. Lower down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, hold for a few seconds and slowly rise to starting position. That is one rep. I will aim to do 12-15 reps per set, and 3 sets total.

Dumbbell Plie Squats

Grab a medium dumbbell and stand with your back straight and feet just a bit further than shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbell at your center by just one end of it. Slowly lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, making sure your knees do not protrude past your toes. Hold a few seconds and while contracting your glutes, rise back to starting position. Same as the dumbbell squats, perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Lunges

Lunges are by far one of the most effective exercises for your lower body. I actually prefer walking lunges, but at the gym, I tend to just do the stationary ones. Start in standing position and lunge one leg forward so your back knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and shin is parallel to the floor. Leading leg should be bent 90 degrees as well with thigh parallel to the floor. As you lift yourself back to starting position, be sure you are using the glutes to do so and not pushing off your leg. Repeat on opposite side. That is one rep. I do 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Dumbbells optional.

Many of these exercises are effective for your legs too, which is why I work legs and glutes on the same day.

Tell me about your routine for glutes – any super-fab effective exercises to share? I’d love to hear what is working for you! xoxo