How To Do A Hand Release Push-up

April 18, 2015

The most effective exercises to burn body fat, build muscle and see physical results from exercise have one major thing in common - they target more than one muscle group. From bootcamps to personal training sessions, the majority of the exercises I prescribe for my clients target the biggest muscle groups in our body, ask the exerciser to move in varying ranges of motion and often include more than one joint to be active in the movement. 

 

Think of the engine in your car - how many cylinders does it have? How much gas does it take to run your car for a week? Exercises that target small muscle groups (unfortunately, these are usually the featured moves in most girly fitness magazines) are like the smart cars of the exercise world. When we perform tricep extensions and ab crunches, they do not cost us much fuel. The human equivalent of the gas you put into your car is calories - and we know that we must burn a significant number of calories in a workout in order to see physical change. 

 

Environmental awareness aside, we want our bodies to act like a V8 engine, a gas guzzler! When we are at the gym, we want bang for our buck. During the training sessions I create, I choose exercises that target more than one muscle group, require us to move in multiple planes and focus on activating the biggest muscle groups in our bodies. 

 

Why? Because your body responds to the demands you place on it. Focusing on small muscle groups to tone and tighten unfortunately gives little stimulus for our body to burn fat or gain muscle. Targeting big muscle groups with exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pull-ups and planks helps our metabolism to become super effective. On the other end of the spectrum, side leg lifts and even bicep curls with loads of 5lbs do not create the hormonal situation that helps us burn body fat and gain muscle mass. 

 

Here is one of my favourite upper body and core exercises, the hand release push-up. I first learned this move from Jen Sinkler of Thrive as the Fittest. Jen shares effective exercises that give a great bang for your buck in terms of your time in the gym. 

 

 

Check out the video to get some of my favourite cues for this challenging exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, back extensors, mid-back muscles and deepest core stabilizers. Not only does this muscle target big muscle groups which contribute to the overall caloric-requirement of this move, it helps improve your traditional push-ups too.

 

Enjoy!

 

Lana :) 

Easy Healthy Eats YYC Midtown Kitchen

April 18, 2015

[Easy Healthy Eats YYC] 

I headed to Midtown Kitchen with some girlfriends this past weekend for lunch and had one of the best salads I've eaten in awhile! The roasted vegetable salad comes with beets, parsnips, carrots, goat cheese, fricassee and I added a side of rotisserie chicken. It comes with a light citrus dressing that doesn't drown the salad, just lightens it up. 

The Checklist:

- Protein from rotisserie chicken. 

- Veggies like fricassee (a curly type of leafy green) beets, carrots and parsnips up the fibre content and offer a ton of nutritional content. 

- A little goat cheese and citrus dressing help to liven up the flavours and add satisfaction. 

Head over to Kensington next time you want to grab a drink and dinner with friends and enjoy Midtown Kitchen!

5 Tools To Motivate Yourself For Exercise

April 11, 2015

For the past 8 years I have been working as a full time personal trainer. The clients I have crossed paths with fall into one of two camps – they either exercise regularly or they do not.

Seems pretty simple, right? I have a ton of clients who are in the regular habit of exercising. They come to my bootcamp classes, I train them in their homes or they are part of my womens online coaching group the Blast Fitness Lifestyle Club. The intensity, frequency and type of exercise they do definitely varies from person to person, but they are part of a relatively small percentage of the population that logs sweat sessions a few times a week, each and every week.

The other group of clients I coach are not in the habit of getting regular exercise sessions in. They tend to fall into the all-or-nothing camp, which means some weeks they hit the gym four times, and other weeks they do not sweat at all.

Before we go further – remember this: we want awareness without judgement. One group is not ‘better’ than the other. I do not like the regular exercisers more, they simply have created a habit out of exercise which has obvious positive health and wellness benefits.

Depending on which camp YOU fall into, I want to give you some of the best strategies to get into the regular exercise camp, or stay there for good if you are already rockin’ the sweat sessions each week. It really comes down to motivation, doesn’t it? The feeling that we have when we do or do not want to do something, that is our motivation, or de-motivation on the other end of the spectrum.

The topic of continued motivation comes up frequently in conversation when someone asks me ‘And what do you do for a living?’ I have my reply and then my fuel to answer their questions about HOW I stay motivated or help my clients get motivated to exercise regularly. Here are 5 tools you can implement today in order to help you stay motivated to exercise.

1. Do the things you love.

This is by far the easiest way to stay motivated to get your workouts in. When you look forward to your workouts because they feel good, make you smile and bring you joy, you will be more likely to do them. When you are just starting out, you may be looking forward to chatting with your bestie before and after class or just the coffee drinking part afterward, but lets find one reason why we like a certain type of workout and cling to that. 

My friend Morgan of Morgan Lee Wellness made a post on this exact topic this week and I loved when she said we need to ‘recognize the difference between normal resistance and utter dislike’. Life is simply too short to waste your time on workouts you hate. Go do something you love and the motivation will come right along with it!

 

I actually love running or walking the stairs. Any stairs! Indoors, outdoors. It is super intense but gets the legs and lungs working like no other. For the record, sitting on the stairs is pretty fun too. 

2. Set yourself up for success

I want to introduce you to a topic that goes hand in hand with your motivation. It is called activation energy. Activation energy is the amount of energy it takes you to start or activate a task. The less activation energy it takes you to get your workout in, the more likely you are to do it. Set yourself up for success by creating a workout schedule that has a low activation energy.

Let’s consider this from the perspective of the time of day you choose to exercise. For example, how much activation energy would you need to get a workout in after a 10 hour work day, when you are sitting on your couch in your pajamas with a hot cup of tea? I would need so much activation energy at this point, I know I wouldn’t get the workout in.

Aim to get your workout in when it costs you the least amount of activation energy. For some of you this will be first thing in the morning before you have 6 other tasks requiring your focus and attention. For others it will be to sign-up for a fitness class that is on your way home from work. You leave the office and know that you will stop for your workout before you get home and have to gather up a ton of activation energy to leave your comfort cocoon. 

3. Practice less self de-motivation.

Do you know what de-motivation is? It is when you think of all the reasons why you do not want to exercise. It is when you think of all the reasons why staying on the couch is a better idea than getting up and putting your runners on.

Building on the idea of activation energy from tool #2, when we de-motivate ourselves less and less often, we require less activation energy to get motivated. De-motivation is a habit. We talk ourselves out of doing things all the time. Changing thought patterns like this is not easy. It takes practice, and us much as I wish it weren’t so, nike was really onto something with their slogan ‘Just do it’. Less mental aerobics, ok? More getting up and getting out the door. I know I never regret getting a workout in, I feel better, I am happier, and I am more motivated when I get my workouts in. When you practice less self de-motivation, the motivation part actually becomes a lot easier.

4. Expect ups and downs.

The regular exercise population has come to expect there will be ups and downs in their workout schedule. There will be sickness, travel, work deadlines and family emergencies. Is the answer to exercise through these challenging times? Adopt the no excuses mentality? No. Well, maybe sometimes!

Start to look at your exercise habits from a yearly perspective. In a year from now, if you committed to a regular exercise schedule each week, you would likely have a couple weeks of travel, a week of battling sickness and a couple crazy work deadlines. Some weeks you will have to get 20 minutes of strength training in rather than 45 minutes, other weeks a run in a different city will have to cut it, and there will be a few times that sleeping will be a better option than hitting the gym. BUT, over the 365 days in the next year, lets get regular! 

For me, a regular workout schedule means that I often get in very short, intense workouts with no gym or special equipment. Just like this hill workout that is a go to when I want something short and challenging. 

5. Commit to the lifestyle.

Lifestyle? What lifestyle? The lifestyle of a regular exerciser!

The trouble is that this looks so different for so many people. For some of my clients this means 4 full-on strength sessions, a cardio interval session, a yoga class and a couple slow walks. For others this means 2 at home strength workouts, pilates and daily walking. Some people log 50km a week running and add a few strength workouts in. The point is that your exercise lifestyle will look different than your co-workers and that is fine. It is actually perfect. You are a different person than they are, so why would you ever try to emulate their exact schedule?

The benefit of committing to a lifestyle of regular exercise is that it takes less activation energy (see point #2!) to get back on the wagon when you fall off less and less often. A lifestyle of regular exercise is not perfect, but it is consistent. Meaning we do something sweaty and movement based a few times each week. 

At the end of the day, I always come back to this à The self. You. You get out of this life what you put in. And your exercise habits are exactly the same. Listen to your body, do what you love and push through on the days when self de-motivation seems like your only option.

Remember to share your motivation wins with us on the Blast Fitness Facebook page.

To you and your empowerment,

Lana xox

3 Killer Bodyweight Workouts

April 04, 2015

The ladies and gents in my weekly bootcamps know the power and pain of a no-equipment workout. While bodyweight exercises may seem simple, these are often the toughest sessions I put together. 

After one such class last week, a participant exclaimed 'we've been hobbling around the office all week!' Of course you do not need to constantly chase muscle soreness in order to see results, but adding a little intensity and variety into your routine does a body and mind good. 

In an effort to share some of my favourite tough and functional no-equipment workouts, I put my pen to paper, I mean my fingers to the keyboard and crafted up some fat-burning, muscle-building, sweat-producing ideas for you.

You can thank me later...or send me hate e-mails when you are sore. If you are on vacation, need a quick workout in your basement or are having a tough time finding equipment at lunch hour at your busy gym these workouts are for you. 

For me, exercise is about feeling good, honouring my inner and outer strength and prioritizing some me-time. Quick bodyweight workouts help to take away some of the barriers to exercise (no time, no access to a gym) and help get you busy doing the things that help you feel awesome. 

Be sure to warm-up for at least a few minutes before you get started with these workouts. I like to go up and down the stairs a few times, do some arm circles, squats and even a couple sun salutations, flow-yoga style to get the blood pumping.

 

Workout #1 Push it

This is a total body circuit workout that requires a set of stairs to complete. You could also do jumping jax in place of the stairs if you need an alternative. Repeat all four exercises consecutively for a total of 3 rounds.

Stair sprint x 2 flights (I went up and down one flight, two times)

Squat jumps x 10

Up/down plank x 10/arm

Single leg hip lifts x 10/leg

 

Workout #2 Climb the ladder

This is a descending ladder which means that you start your first set with 15 reps of each exercise and each subsequent set the reps will decrease. I learned this tip from Jen Sinkler, that an ascending ladder is a tough mental pill to swallow, it is much easier to start with the highest number of reps and make your way down the ladder.

Round 1 – 15 reps of each exercise

Lunge switch jumps x 15/leg

Hand-release push-ups x 15

The hand-release push-up is an exercise Jen Sinkler taught me. Perform a push-up, but bring your entire body onto the ground at the bottom. Keep your eyes looking to the floor and lift up your elbows towards the ceiling, releasing your hands from the floor. This essentially performs a mini-row to engage your mid-back muscles. Then keep your core tight and push all the way up again.

Plank jax x 15

Hold a plank position and jump your legs out into a wide stance and then jump them back together, that equals one rep.

Round 2 – 10 reps of each exercise

Round 3 – 5 reps of each exercise

 

Workout #3 The Final Countdown

This is a timed circuit, which means that you will need a watch or an app timer. I want you to work hard for in each movement exercise and then breathe and hold each isometric exercise. An isometric exercise like a squat hold, plank or hip lift hold requires our body to maintain a certain position while our muscle increase in tension over the duration of the hold. 

Speed skaters 60 seconds Squat hold 60 seconds

Speed skaters 45 seconds Squat hold 45 seconds

Speed skaters 30 seconds Squat hold 30 seconds

Push-ups 60 seconds Plank 60 seconds

Push-ups 45 seconds Plank 45 seconds

Push-ups 30 seconds Plank 30 seconds

Bicycle crunch 60 seconds Hip Bridge hold 60 seconds

Bicycle crunch 45 seconds Hip Bridge hold 45 seconds

Bicycle crunch 30 seconds Hip Bridge hold 30 seconds

These workouts are all relatively short in duration, but tough in terms of intensity. They would be great at the end of a workout as a finisher or combined altogether for something particularly challenging. Depending on your fitness level, you could pick one of the above workouts and use it as a stepping stone to adding intensity into your exercise routine. 

Have fun and be sure to let me know how you do! Please remember to listen to your body and be smart with the intensity of exercise you are taking on. 

Lana xox

 

Guest Post! Get your mind right for sustainable body change

March 28, 2015

Today I am super excited to share our first ever guest post! My own personal coach for everything mind, body and business - Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques is here to share specifically why if we do not prioritize getting our mind right, we will never see sustainable body change.


You guys have heard me talk about Jill a number of times here on the blog and are likely familiar with the incredible shift my own life has taken due largely in part to the work I have done with Jill. From today until Friday April 3rd, Jill's 10 Week Mindset Makeover Program is open for registration. As I have gone through this transformational two and a half months myself, I wanted to give you all the chance to get in on it HERE (with some amazing exclusive bonuses I have created to help guide you through your own mindset transformation process). 

Take it away, Jill: 

I have a confession to make. 

Over the last 4 years at JillFit, I’ve talked a lot about the concept of ‘mindset’ and how it relates to food and exercise. But ready for this? I kind of hate that word!

Why? Because it’s so vague and intangible. It doesn’t really mean anything out of context, and it’s such a hard concept for us to grasp because um, what is mindset? And why should we care?

Well, despite kind of hating that term, I’ve made it my mission to help people see just how much they should care about it. Why? Because it’s the key to making sustainable change with your eating and exercise. 

But when I say ‘mindset,’ what I really mean is perspective – how one sees the world.

When you change the way you see the world, you change your outcomes.

It’s that simple. But it also takes work, and a lot of courage and some self-trust sprinkled on top. Changing your mindset around food and exercise can feel scary, but so much of what we think about it is ingrained.

Common mental constructs around food and exercise:

  • More is better.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • Sacrifice is required for results.
  • If you’re not going to go all the way, why bother?
  • Anything less than perfect eating won’t make a difference.
  • Go hard or go home.
  • Compliance is king.
  • If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.
  • If I’m going to go “off plan,” I might as well go all the way!

We’ve all repeated these things, if not out loud then certainly in those times when we mentally berate ourselves in private.

But here’s the question: when we believe these punishing statements, do we tend to feel more or less motivated to keep going?

I don’t know about you, but believing these statements makes me feel like one single deviance is going to have me back to square one, and anything less than hardcore is not worth even trying. How does perpetuating this all-or-nothing mentality serve us in the long-term? It really doesn’t.

Could you turn these statements around to ones that are more encouraging and less cutthroat? I think so. And by doing so, you’re giving yourself the space and time to actually be able to implement long-term. In other words, you gain perspective.

Here’s my stab:

  • More is not better, better quality is better.
  • All pain, no gain.
  • The more you sacrifice, the more likely you are to boomerang back to overindulgence.
  • Every little bit counts.
  • Trying to be perfect is trying to fail.
  • Going hard or going home always ends up going home.
  • Blindly complying to random meal plans keeps you dependent and unable to think for yourself.
  • Accept that results are never going to be linear or predictable – your slip-ups are instructive.
  • Resiliency is the key to consistency over time. You’re always one meal away from being back in fat-burning mode.

The key here is actually not which set of statements is more accurate for rapid weight loss. The key here is … ready? … WHICH STATEMENTS KEEP YOU MOTIVATED TO BE AS SUSTAINABLY CONSISTENT AS POSSIBLE?

Because I am not interested in how you did today. I’m not interested in how “perfect” you ate this week. I’m actually not interested in the 15 pounds you lost as a result of white-knuckling your way through some super depriving meal plan.

What I am interested in is your long-term ability to make consistently good choices (not perfect ones!) for the next year, the next decade, forever. And in order to do that, you cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.

Ironically, one key mindset concept that has been shown in research to help us stay motivated is self-compassion – giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt.
 

This is tricky for us, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to nutrition and exercise, because we tend to feel like showing ourselves compassion when we are not “perfect” or when we are struggling is somehow letting ourselves off the hook. Like, if we show ourselves kindness when we’re not doing what we think we should be doing, it means we’ll really go off and eat everything!!

We feel like negative motivators like guilt, shame, remorse and self-disgust are useful. We think we need them because they “keep us in line.” 

Nothing could be further from the truth. And yes, I know that’s hard to believe!

But research tells us that acknowledging our humanity in those moments of well, being human, and putting things in perspective allows for further action. It’s saying, “You know what, I may not be perfect, but I’m doing my best. We are all the same, we are all working to get better and all I can focus on is my next meal. I don’t have to let slip-ups and mess-ups mean that I suck and I’ll never be successful.”

This mental turnaround actually helps us STAY THE COURSE. 

Approaching your eating and exercise with a cutthroat mindset is the 1.0 version. It’s what the dieting industry, the meal plan culture and all the quick-fix programs have ingrained in us. And we perpetuate it, often unknowingly, even though it’s not serving us.

So changing your mindset to something that helps you stay consistent represents the 2.0 version. It requires you begin questioning those old beliefs about hardcore approaches and start thinking for yourself.

Your perception of the process is exactly what appears: if you think it’s hard and it sucks and you’ll never be successful, then that reality will most certainly show up.

Or, if you think that nutrition and exercise are a journey and you always have a chance to do better, and you never reach a point of no returns, and results take time and consistency, then chances are you will stay the course. You won’t give up as easily as you might with a more cutthroat mindset.

Your mindset dictates your actions over time. And your actions over time are all the matter for results.

I know it can be scary, but could you try a new way? Could you show yourself some compassion? Could you implement some more moderate (not perfect!) choices? Could you approach your eating and exercise not with urgency, but with the realization that they go on forever, so best to find a more sustainable strategy?

This is a practice. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen with continued awareness, catching yourself in your old mental patterns, and harnessing that little bit of effort to turn those thoughts around to ones that serve you.

Choose a perception that serves you. It’s that simple.

Wishing you the best of luck!

Xo,

Jill

Woah, ok I hope you can see the power your own mind can play in the way you perceive the world. Remember, our mindset affects every thought we make. When we change our mindset, we change our thoughts, emotions, and ultimately our decisions. Our decisions directly affect our results! Grab your spot in the 10 Week Mindset Makeover plus all the exclusive Blast Fitness Bonuses (the minder makeover companion guide, coaching package raffle and group coaching calls) HERE until Friday April 3rd only. 

To you and your success,

Lana