Chest & Tris Workout

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This workout pairs chest with triceps for a great superset. The triceps are located on the back of your arms. By building strength in the back of your arms, it’ll help you’ll increase your power in your chest too! I like to stay in the 10-12 rep range. As always, use a weight that is challenging but safe for you!

*DB = dumbbell

*BB = barbell

CHEST & TRICEP WORKOUT
DB Chest Press – Incline Tricep Extensions
BB Chest Press – Skull Crushers
DB Flys – DB Kickbacks
Cable Flys – Cable Pull Downs

🤘🏼Kelsi Ward
📱@littlewarriorkelsi
💪🏼 Fitness Fiend | NASM CPT
⚔️ #CivilizethemindMakesavagethebody
❤️ I help bad ass women break through
their own boundaries.

P.S. If you are looking for a little more intensity, send me a message, I’d be happy to send some more your way!

Leg Workout (Quad Focused)

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent some of your gym time toning your thighs (aka quads). Your quad muscles are located on the front of your legs between your knees and your hips and they are responsible for everything from keeping your knees in proper alignment (kinda important) to helping you walk, run, and jump like a boss. So here’s one of my quad focused leg workouts. Stay in the 10-12 rep range for each exercise, and as always, use a weight that is challenging but safe for you!

LEGS (Quad Focused)
Leg Press – BOSU Squat
Step Ups – Lunges
Frog Squat (20-30) – Wall Sit (30-60 seconds) Seated & Standing Calves
Leg Extensions

🤘🏼Kelsi Ward
📱@littlewarriorkelsi
💪🏼 Fitness Fiend | NASM CPT
⚔️ #CivilizethemindMakesavagethebody
❤️ I help bad ass women break through
their own boundaries.

P.S. If you are looking for a little more intensity, send me a message, I’d be happy to send some more your way!

5 Strategies to Enhance Your Workouts

When it comes to workouts, we want to get in, get out, and make the most of our time! The same goes for our research on said workouts. Today we’re keeping it short and sweet while talking about how to amp up your exercise routine. Check out these 5 powerful strategies to enhance your workouts and maximize your results.

Strategy #1: Speed it Up

As a wife and mom, I’m always pressed for time, so I tend to use supersets as a way to speed things up. A superset is two or more exercises performed back to back with little to no rest in between. I like to combine complementary muscle groups to really maximize my time!

For example, if I’m training upper body I might pair back and bicep exercises together or chest and tricep exercises together.

Supersets not only speed up your workout, but they increase the amount of calories your burning during and after the session too. It’s a win win.

Strategy #2: Slow it Down

Now, you might be thinking “Wait, didn’t she just tell me to speed it up?” yes, but slowing down exercises can have a great impact as well!

We can’t go all out all the time. Slowing things down will improve your mind muscle connection. When you do that, you’ll be more aware of your form and be able to complete movements properly.

Visualize raising and lowering a dumbbell during a bicep curl, I can feel the burn just thinking about it!

Strategy #3: Pulse it Out

You might not expect a lot from this tiny movement at first, but pulsing isolates all your stabilizer muscles.

Here you’re going to be moving just a few inches above and below the most challenging point of the movement.

For example, if I’m training lower body, I might incorporate pulse squats to isolate the muscles in my quads.

Strategy #4: Hold Tight

Holding exercises also known as isometric exercises are a safe, low impact technique to tone your entire body.

Holding movements are great for building strength because they help strengthen your tendons and ligaments, keeping you injury free.

Think of exercises like wall sits, planks, or handstands… it only takes about 20 seconds for the challenge to begin!

Strategy #5: Focus on Form

Last but not least, be intentional and focus on your form the entire time.

We’ve all had those workouts where we just go through the motions.

The goal when focusing on form is to workout more efficiently so that you can channel your energy into the movements that really make a difference.

Ready to challenge yourself with some of these strategies? Give the Rapid Warrior Workout below a try!

RAPID WARRIOR WORKOUT

3 ROUNDS EACH:

20 SECONDS WORK – 10 SECONDS REST

Round 1:

  • Toe taps (speed it up)
  • Scissor kicks (slow it down)
  • Pulse Squats (pulse it out)
  • Planks (hold tight)
  • Push-Ups (focus on form)

Round 2:

  • Mountain climbers (speed it up)
  • Bicycle crunches (slow it down)
  • Pulse lunges (pulse it out)
  • Hollow Hold (hold tight)
  • Sit-ups (focus on form)

Your Guide on Overcoming Gymtimidation

IMG_9568You know that feeling when you walk into the gym for the first time? The feeling that everyone is looking at you because you don’t know what you’re doing? You’re desperately trying to read the tiny descriptions of each exercise on the machines. You’re looking around at what other people are doing. You’re contemplating using free weights. You’re thinking “WTF am I doing?” and then, you end up on cardio… the “safe place.” You figure anyone can walk on a treadmill, ride a bike, or use an elliptical, so that becomes your “go to.” When this happens you miss out on so many amazing benefits of resistance training and exercise variation. So, take some time to educate yourself on different exercise modalities so that you don’t turn into a cardio bunny like I used to be!

Lets begin with the less intimidating strength-training machines. These are excellent options if you are new to the gym. Machines keep you in a fixed range of motion to help target the muscles you want to work. They’re also great for supersets and circuit-training because you can easily change the amount of weight and you don’t need a someone to spot (help) you. Once you start to feel comfortable with machines, you may want to branch out into free weights such as barbells and dumbbells.

Free weights will allow you to perform complex exercises which require more energy and allow you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time. When using free weights, control and stability are extremely important. For certain exercises, you may need a spotter if you are trying to lift heavy weight..

Cable machines are also effective for many phases of training. Cables can be used to improve everything from stability, endurance, hypertrophy, strength or power. The important thing to remember when using these machines is to match the cable to the muscle’s natural line of pull. When everything is in line, your movements will feel a lot more natural.

Resistance Bands are best used to build muscular endurance. One of the biggest advantages of resistance bands is that they are low cost and very portable. These would be an excellent option if you prefer to workout at home or you travel for work. If your goal is to gain strength, then these might not be the best option for you.

Medicine balls are handy because they can be thrown, caught and used to provide resistance in a variety of movements and intensities. Kettlebell training is different from barbells, dumbbells and medicine balls because the center of mass is away from the handle. The swing type movements and increased need for strength and coordination make this a challenging but fun form of exercise. Because kettlebell training recruits so many stabilizers you will increase metabolic demands and calorie burn!

Stability balls and BOSU balls help increase the intensity of the workout by decreasing the stability. Using these forms of exercises in your training will help to increase your balance, stability and strength. Fun fact: BOSU stands for Both Sides Up!

Last but not least is YOU! Body weight training is great because it doesn’t require any extra load or equipment. Typical body weight exercises are push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and sit-ups. These exercises are great not only for beginners, but also those who are looking to build muscle because they can be supersetted into your routine.

Gymtimidation is a thing of the past. There are more resources out there than ever to help get you in shape. If you’re not sure about a piece of equipment, then ask a personal trainer. If you don’t want to ask at the gym then google it! And if you’re brave and just want to figure it out on the fly, then that’s always fun too. Just be safe!

Why Training Beats Working Out

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Working Out vs. Weight Training… Aren’t they just synonyms for sweating your butt off? Nope. There’s actually some very specific differences.

In short, when you’re working out you’re burning calories, sweating, not focused on anything specific, your routine is unplanned, and you kind of get it done just because.

With weight training, your week is usually planned, your exercises get progressively harder over time, things are done for a specific purpose, individual muscle groups get their own focus, and it’s geared towards results.

For example purposes we’ll look at Fitness Classes vs. Weight Training.

I used to LOVE going to spin class, Zumba, boot camp, kickboxing etc. and while I did leave there sweating and after having some fun, it didn’t elicit the same feeling of accomplishment within myself. After most group exercise classes you’ll leave feeling exhausted, dripping in sweat, feeling like you just got killed, and you’ll be super sore the next day… that’s GREAT but that doesn’t mean that you had the best workout or that you’re making the best progress. You’ll end up chasing a short term feeling at the end of that class, when you could be chasing a long term result. Just because someone can make you tired, doesn’t mean they gave you a solid workout. I barely sweat when I train, but I know that what I do is effective because I see the progress over time. Think about how many people you’ve seen walk in and out of the gym for years, never looking any different.

If you haven’t reached your goals yet, maybe you need to make a change. Maybe you need to combine strength training with your current exercise of choice. Maybe you need to try something completely different. If you want to decrease fat, increase your strength, and increase your quality of life then consider getting into weight training over just working out!

Cardio vs. Weight Training: Which is really better?

IMG_9564Why do one or the other?Most women who stick to cardio are afraid of getting too bulky, are afraid of looking dumb (not knowing how to lift weights), or just want to burn calories. Weightlifters veer from cardio because they don’t want to lose their gains (size), don’t want to lose their strength, or find it boring. So what’s the best route to take?
In my opinion, you don’t have to choose between one and the other. You WILL burn more calories during a 45 minute cardio session than you will a 45 minute weight lifting session. But THIS is where most women get confused… they think if they burn more calories during that time then they should focus all their energy on cardio. HOWEVER they are only burning more calories in short term. If you want to burn more calories in the long term then you need to lift weights. You’ll build more lean muscle, and because muscle burns more calories than fat, you’ll burn more calories in a 24 hour period. Plus, you’ll be able to eat more food and who doesn’t want that?
Now, cardio isn’t the worst… you’ll be able to build up your aerobic capacity and recover better (which will help you improve your strength, muscle mass, and overall performance).

There is a place for cardio AND weightlifting. They are both beneficial to each other and you should use both in your workouts to help you reach your heath and fitness goals!

The Go-Getter’s Guide to a Fit Pregnancy

BP_PHOTO-48There’s a lot of women out there who preach that “there’s no difference between how a man should work out and how a woman should work out!” and I agree with them… to a certain extent. There are physiological differences between men and women due to body structure, muscle mass, and even body chemistry. Those differences increase even more when you’re pregnant! Whether you’re pregnant right now or planning to be in the future, this article will outline the health benefits, training precautions, exercise guidelines, and exercises to avoid for a healthy happy pregnancy.

Health Benefits:

A lot of research has been done to show the benefits of exercise for both Mom and baby! Exercise strengthens your heart to pump all that extra blood around and keep your body going strong. Exercise can also improve mood, help you sleep better, and strengthen your body for labor. Exercise is vital during pregnancy for many reasons, including managing and preventing symptoms, pacing your weight gain,and keeping baby as healthy as possible. A recent study out of the University of Montreal indicates that exercise during pregnancy may boost baby’s brain activity. Other studies have shown that it helps babies sleep through the night sooner, and become better eaters!

Training Precautions:

When exercising you want to make sure blood flow regulation, body temperature, and oxygen supply all stay in safe ranges. This can be done by taking a few precautions during training.
To make sure blood flow stays at a steady rate, avoid any exercises that require you to lay on your back. This position can affect blood flow to your uterus. You can use a heart rate monitor to keep track of this during your workouts.
To regulate your body temperature, make sure you’re not overexerting yourself and that you’re drinking enough water. I’ve doubled and maybe tripled the amount of water I used to drink since I became pregnant!
To keep an eye on your oxygen supply stay at a low to moderate intensity during cardio. You can use the talk test to determine your intensity, if you can’t hold a conversation while exercising then you need to scale it back a bit. The treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are all perfectly fine to complete cardio during pregnancy.
If you start to feel nausea, dizziness, or faint, stop immediately and scale back from that point forward. There is good news though! If you’re already exercising regularly before pregnancy then you can pretty much stick to your normal routine until the third trimester! After that, it’s recommended to start slowing down.

Exercise Guidelines:

Stick to low impact exercises that avoid quick motions. Instead of plyometrics, aerobics, or kickboxing… think more along the lines of treadmill walking, stationary cycling, and even swimming!
You’ll be able to complete cardio exercises between 3 and 5 days a week at a moderate intensity for about 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll be able to resistance train 2-3 days per week at a light intensity with higher reps (between 12 and 15). Make sure you are getting in a good stretch either before or after your workout. Maintaining your flexibility will become more important as you go through pregnancy!

Exercises to Avoid:

After First Trimester
Any Exercises in the Prone Position (on stomach)
Any Exercises in the Supine Position (on back)
High-Impact Exercises

After Second Trimester
Twisting of Your Torso
Abdominal Exercises

After Third Trimester
Hip Abduction Machines
Hip Adduction Machines

Every pregnancy is unique and different. I just want yours to be a healthy and happy one! As stated above, if you were previously working out before becoming pregnant then this guide might apply differently to you.

*I am not a doctor and you should always consult your physician before participating in any kind of physical activity.

Create Your Own Kickass Fitness Program

The nerdy side of me secretly loves merging science and fitness together! I haven’t dug deep into scientific shenanigans in a while so here goes. We’re going to explore the benefits of SAID GAS to help you create your own kickass fitness program… And yes, you read that correctly.
Let’s begin with Periodization. Periodization is a systematic way to make physical changes over the course of weeks, months, and years. This approach uses the Principle of Specificity (SAID) and General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). Your training program should be divided into specific phases of training. Each phase using a different form of strength, and volume to prevent injury while still achieving your goals. As a personal trainer, I create training plans by determining the form of training to be used, how long it will take, how often it will change, and what specific exercises will be included. The plan can be divided up annually (macrocycle), monthly (mesocycle), and weekly (microcycle) so you will be able to see the future of your goals in a time bound order. Periodization allows for optimal changes to the body while minimizing overtraining which would inevitably lead to fatigue or injury.
The SAID Principle of Specificity stands for Specific Adaptation Imposed Demands. The SAID Principle states that the body will adapt to the specific demands placed on it. Want to increase strength? Lift heavy weights for lower reps. Want to increase endurance? Lift lighter weights for higher reps. The awesome part of the SAID Principle is that we have the power to change our desired outcome through specific training methods. But the body will only adapt if it has a reason to adapt. There are three ways your body can adapt: mechanically, neuromuscularly, and metabolically. So let’s dive into those a bit.
Mechanical Specificity refers to the weight and movements placed on the body. Mechanically, the body will burn more calories when movements are performed while standing. So let’s say you’re performing overhead shoulder presses. You’ll burn more calories by completing the exercise in a standing position than you would by performing it on a bench.

Neuromuscular Specificity refers to the speed or contraction of the exercise. The body will burn more calories when muscles are being used for longer periods of time in a controlled unstable environment. So let’s say you’re completing body weight squats. You’ll burn more calories by performing the exercise on a BOSU ball than you would by performing it on the floor.

Metabolic Specificity refers to the energy demand placed on the body. Metabolically, the body will burn more calories when rest times are short and muscles are not fully recovered.

The phases that the body will go through in a resistance training program (from a beginner’s standpoint) are stabilization → muscular endurance → hypertrophy → strength, → power. Stabilization is important to develop proper balance, muscular contraction, and joint stability. Muscular Endurance helps create core and joint stabilization which are the foundation for hypertrophy, strength, and power training. Muscular hypertrophy is the growth of skeletal muscles as a result of weight training. (It’s how you make dem gainz). Specifically, low to medium rep ranges with progressive overload (heavier weight). Strength Training uses the neuromuscular system to produce internal tension to overcome an external load (aka it uses your muscles to lift weights). Typically this is done by using heavier loads to recruit more muscles, and slowly increasing the amount of weight used over time. More advanced strength type lifters will have to follow a more demanding program in terms of volume and intensity, using a periodized schedule. Power Training is used to produce the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time. So lifters will increase the weight or speed at which the weight is moved.
There are many different training systems you can follow depending on your goals. I’m going to cover my top favorites. The pyramid system increases or decreases weight with each set, usually 4-6 sets. The superset system is when you perform two exercises back to back with minimal rest. They can be exercises from the same muscle group or antagonist muscle groups. This is how I usually train, I’m busy and I don’t want to spend hours in the gym. Using supersets makes for an efficient workout. Drop-sets are when you perform a set to failure, remove some weight, and continue with the set. Circuit training refers to performing a series of exercises, one after the other, with minimal rest. This is also another efficient way to squeeze in a workout; the only drawback is that your equipment usually gets taken during busy times at the gym. Most bodybuilders prefer to follow a split routine, training different body parts on separate days. I also do this because it allows me to focus on specific body parts. Plus, if I was sore from a total body workout I’d be like the grumpiest person alive, however, I can handle sore biceps for a day.
Let’s move onto General Adaptation Syndrome. This is how the body responds and adapts to stress. When your body responds to stress it goes through three stages: Alarm Reaction, Resistance Development, and Exhaustion. The alarm reaction stage is the initial reaction to the stressor. In the beginning, your body may be very inefficient in dealing with the demands placed on it during resistance training. But over time, and gradual overload, your body increases its ability to handle those demands. The resistance development stage is when your body starts to become more efficient at adapting to the stressor. After repeated training sessions your body becomes more efficient at recruiting muscles, distributing oxygen, and distributing blood throughout the body. Once this happens, your body will need an increase to stress or overload to create a new level of adaptation. In other words, your body will freak out, get sore, adapt, grow, and become stronger. To continue that process you will need to change the stress by lifting heavier, increasing sets or reps, lowering rest periods, or choosing a new exercise so that your muscles can adapt further. Future training will be met with less and less soreness which will allow your training to gradually advance to new levels. Your performance will continue to improve until you reach a new plateau, and that’s when you should change one of the previous variables.

The exhaustion stage is when your body has gone through too much stress. This may lead to fractures, sprains, joint pain, and even emotional fatigue. This is why it is important to follow a progressive training program with the help of a personal trainer. 

Your body can handle a lot of stressed placed on it as long as it is balanced out with stages of rest and recovery. This is also where the importance of periodization comes in because it is the division of a training program into smaller progressive stages. A personal trainer will be able to design an effective safe program that will allow you to reach your goals without the grueling exhaustion stage.

Two Common Thoughts Everyone Has During Cardio

an on treadmill
Photo by William Choquette on Pexels.com

You’ve made the perfect playlist, you’ve laced up your tennis shoes, and you’re ready to knock out your cardio. Do you ever wonder what the better option is between indoor and outdoor cardio? You probably have a preference regardless of which one is better for you. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing cardio inside and outside.

For comparison sake, let’s use running as the example in both situations. If you’re running on a treadmill then you’re keeping a steady pace. The machine does this for you. Even if you’re on a hill setting, the pace will still be kept the same. When you’re outside, your pace will change due to many different factors. The environment around you might change, running through tall grass will be more difficult than running on pavement and you’ll have to adjust in order to keep your form. Your playlist might change causing you to speed up or slow down. I know that sounds crazy, but chances are if you’re listening to Lady Gaga you’re running faster than if you were listening to Celine Dion. Your body will also react differently to being outside. The heat, the wind, the cold will all play factors in your endurance. Change of pace = change of speed and intensity. Plain and simple.

If you’re running on a treadmill your pace, speed, and intensity will be variables that you can manipulate and control. This means that you will always have a measurable honest progression. If you record your mileage from week to week, then you’ll know how to decrease your time or increase your distance. If you’re running outside then you can still do these things but it will be a little more challenging to measure and progress.

If you have joint, tendon, or impact issues then running on a treadmill might be a better choice for you. Treadmills are designed to have a certain level of give to them, which decreases the pressure on your joints and creates a lightened impact on your bones. If you’re running outside, the pavement will not give as much and you’ll be slamming the surface repeatedly. I know what you’re thinking “so why not just run in the grass?” Well here’s the thing, grass has divots, holes, and uneven surfaces. So if you twist your ankle, then you won’t be able to run at all. How’s that going to work out for ya? Not so good.

In my opinion, indoor cardio is better than outdoor cardio because you get consistent pace, speed, and intensity, as well as measurable, honest, progression.
If you’re doing cardio all the time and aren’t sure how to progress, then consider these 3 options:

Increase Distance: Keep track of your mileage each week. For example run 1.5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for your first week. The next week, jump it up to 2.5 miles Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Do this every week and you’ll slowly increase your distance by a long haul!

Decrease Time: Instead of adjusting your mileage, adjust your time. For example, keep your distance locked in at 3 miles. Record your time at the end of each cardio session. Each time you run 3 miles, try to knock some time off your record. It’ll keep you motivated instead of running aimlessly on the hamster wheel!

Change Intensity (HIIT): If you’re in need of an overhaul then you might want to consider trying High Intensity Interval Training also known as HIIT. This is a great way to shake things up. During HIIT Cardio perform a 5 minute warm up, followed medium resistance, difficult resistance. Cycle through medium and difficult resistance until 20 minutes is complete. Finish with a 5 minute cool down. For example: 5 minute warm up, cycle through 2 minute medium resistance, 30 second difficult resistance, and finish with a 5 minute cool down.

At the end of the day, the best option is the one you’ll stick to! So if you love indoor cardio then keep at it! If you love outdoor cardio then more power to ya! It’s like that saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Am I right? Lol just do your cardio!

Want to Look Cute? Think Acute!

Acute Variables are the most important components that specify how each exercise should be performed. It includes reps, sets, intensity, tempo, volume, rest, training frequency, training duration and specific exercises performed. Ok, I know you’re thinking “Dang that’s a lot to keep track of!” So let’s break it down.

Reps (repetitions) are one complete movement of a single exercise, usually involving concentric, isometric and eccentric muscle actions. Reps are used to count the number of movements performed in a given amount of time (aka time under tension). The number of reps you perform is dependent on the phase of training that you are currently in. For example, when training for muscular endurance you would use 12-20 reps with lower weight. When training for hypertrophy you would use 6-12 reps with higher weight. If you’re new to lifting, then it’s a good idea to begin with higher rep schemes to build up your tendons and ligaments, strength, stability and muscular endurance and progress from there. To keep from overtraining, I try to cycle between periods of lower and higher reps.

Sets are a completed group of reps. Usually fewer sets are performed with higher reps at a lower intensity (for endurance). Whereas more sets are performed with lower reps at a higher intensity (for strength & power training).

Intensity is the amount of effort you are giving compared to the maximal amount of effort possible. Changing other acute variables (like rest time, tempo and load) will change the intensity of your training.

Tempo is the speed that you perform each rep. For endurance, use a slow controlled tempo. For hypertrophy, use a moderate tempo. Wanting max strength and power? That can be increased by a fast, explosive (but controlled) tempo.

Rest Intervals refer to the time DURING the workout that you are letting your body rest and recuperate. For muscular endurance, it is best to rest for about 0-90 seconds. For hypertrophy, shorter rest periods of 0-60 seconds are best. For max strength & power, rest periods of 3-5 minutes are best to recover before the next lift. The longer you rest and recover, the more ATP and PC can be recruited resulting in more energy available to complete your workout.

Training Volume is the total amount of work performed during a training session. It is based on a lot of factors such as goals, training phase, recoverability, nutrition, etc. Volume and Intensity are inversely related. You cannot perform a high volume of high intensity for a long period of time. For hypertrophy or fat loss, use a higher volume. For maximal strength and power, use a low volume & high intensity.

Frequency refers to the number of training sessions in a period of time (usually a week or month). If you’re trying to increase strength, aim for at least 3-5 workouts per week.

Training Duration falls into 2 separate categories. Either time spent during a workout (minutes) OR time spent in a phase of training (weeks). Workouts longer than 90 minutes usually lead to declining energy levels because of the effects on your hormonal and immune response systems. Typically, a training phase will last about 4 weeks.

Exercise Selection refers to the exercise you choose to meet your goals. Be specific in your selection. Plain and simple!

If you want to really get your training dialed in then I suggest taking a close look at each acute variable to make sure it is helping you reach your ultimate goal! If all of that sounds like a foreign language to you then I’d be happy to create a plan for you! Just contact me at littlewarriorfitness@gmail.com