Tag Archives: abs

10 Core Exercises That Aren’t Planks or Crunches

Tired of doing planks and crunches and still not seeing results? Try these 10 Core Exercises instead.

 

Core Exercises

If you’re doing planks and crunches for every core workout you’re going to want to change things up to see new results. These core exercises will target every muscle of your core ensuring you get the best results.

1. Cable Rope Crunches
Clip a double handled rope to a cable machine and set the weight to as close to your bodyweight as possible. In a kneeling position, holding the rope behind your neck, bring your elbows to your knees. Repeat for 15-20 reps. Make this exercise more challenging by twisting so you’re bringing your right elbow to your left knee, then your left elbow to your right knee, alternating with every crunch.

2. Hanging Leg Raises
You can perform this exercise hanging from a pull-up bar or in a roman chair. For this example let’s say you’re doing Hanging Leg Raises from a pull-up bar. Begin by hanging with your legs straight down. In a controlled motion, keeping your legs straight, bring your legs as close to the bar as possible. Return to the hanging position. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

3. Twisting Side Planks
Hold a stability ball in between your legs and keep your legs 6-12 inches from the floor. Sit up, reach diagonally (left arm to right foot) and touch the ball. Repeat, alternating sides, for 16-20 reps.

4. Windmill Leg Raises
Beginning in the same position as our Hanging Leg Raises, lift your legs up to the bar in a circular, clockwise motion. Repeat in a counterclockwise motion. You should be making large, 360 degree circles with your legs.
This is one of the hardest mentioned core exercises. Perform this exercise as slowly as possible. I perform them here on my Instagram. Try to go even slower than that.

5. Diagonal Medicine Ball Slam
Grab a 10-15+ lb medicine ball and start by holding it straight up over your head. Simultaneously throw the ball down on either side of your body and squat slightly. As you throw, you should twist your torso slightly so your right hand is over your left foot on one slam and your left hand is over your right foot on the other slam. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

6. Lumberjacks
Set the cable machine to a relatively light weight, with the handle up high. Begin with both hands holding the handle over one shoulder. Keeping your arms straight, bring the cable across your body at a 45 degree angle so your hands are now down at your opposite hip. Repeat for 15-20 reps on each side. Hold each rep for 1-2 seconds.

7. Smith Machine Sit Ups
Begin in a smith machine Bench Press position, with your feet flat on the bench. Keep your complete straight and sit up as high as you can, lifting your shoulder blades completely off of the bench. Hold for 1 second and return to the starting position. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

8. Ab Roll
Hold the Ab Roller with both hands and kneel on the floor.Now place the ab roller on the floor in front of you so that you are on all your hands and knees (as in a kneeling push up position). This will be your starting position. Slowly roll the ab roller straight forward, stretching your body into a straight position. Bring your hips as close to the floor as possible and pause. After a pause at the stretched position, start pulling yourself back to the starting position as you breathe out. Do this movement slowly and breathe.

9. Stability Ball V-Ups
Lay on the floor with your legs straight and arms stretched out behind your head holding a stability ball. Pick your feet up a few inches from the floor. This is your starting position. Keeping your arms and legs straight, bring the Stability Ball up to your legs, hold it in between your legs, and bring your legs back down to several inches from the floor. Repeat, this time catching the stability ball in your hands. Repeat for 15-20 reps.
Of all the mentioned core exercises, this is one of my favorites for beginners/novice level gym goers.

10. Turkish Get Up
Lie on your back on the floor and press a kettlebell to the top position by extending the elbow. Bend the knee on the same side as the kettlebell. Keeping the kettlebell locked out at all times, pivot to the opposite side and use your non- working arm to assist you in driving forward to the lunge position. Using your free hand, push yourself to a seated position, then progressing to your feet. While looking up at the kettlebell, slowly stand up. Reverse the motion back to the starting position and repeat.

Use any of these 10 Core Exercises in your next workout and see how much different they feel than just doing typical 30 second planks. Do a core workout 2-3 time per week, 5 sets of 15-25 reps or 30-60 seconds.

Do You Need”Diet” or “Low Calorie” Foods?

Chances are if you’re doing some grocery shopping you may see some of your favorite pre-packaged foods in a “diet” or “low calorie” option. You might see “no added sugar”, “reduced fat”, and so on and so forth. They’re all geared around the same goal, helping you eat the foods you crave with less guilt. Here’s the problem though…is that effective? Eating low calorie, reduced fat, no added sugar foods might be a start but if you eat a whole tub of reduced fat ice cream in one sitting then the end result will still be the same. Here’s what you should do.

1. Figure Out Your Calorie Needs

This is probably the easiest way to start. Google “calorie calculator” and you’ll find a few websites that will give you a rough estimate of the amount of calories you should be eating per day. They aren’t 100% spot on, but it’s better than nothing. Here are a few you can try:

Mayo Clinic
NutritionData
My Fitness Pal

People obsess over the amount of calories in a meal but have no idea how many calories they actually need. They look at one of my meals on Instagram and scoff at the 350-550 calorie count because they’re used to seeing ads for meals under 200 calories.

2. Turn Those Calories into Grams

Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are all measured in grams. So, understanding that you need 2500 calories a day (to maintain your weight) is a good start, but now how do we get to those 2500 calories in the most effective way possible? Find a ratio or percentage. So let’s say your ratio looks like this 50:30:20. 50% of your calories are going to come from carbs, 30% are going to come from protein, and 20% from fat. So your daily plan will look like this:

2500 x .5 = 1250 calories from carbs/4 (amount of calories per gram from carbs) = 312.5 grams of carbs per day.
2500 x .3 = 750 calories from protein/4 = 187.5 grams of protein per day
2500 x .2 = 500 calories from fat/9 = 55.5 grams of fat per day

3. Divide Those Grams by the Amount of Meals You Plan to Eat

I generally recommend 5 meals per day spaced out by 3 hours at a time. So we’re going to take our grams of carbs, protein, and fat and divide them by 5 to give us the amount of carbs, protein and fat we’re going to eat per meal.

312.5/5 = 62.5 grams of carbs per meal
187.5/5 = 37.5 grams of protein per meal
55.5/5 = 11.1 grams of fat per meal

Now when you look at the nutrition label of what you’re about to eat you’ll be able to determine whether that fits in the macronutrient breakdown you’ve written. I’m always in favor of the healthier alternative products anyway so I tend to reach for reduced fat, no sugar added, etc., but if I missed a meal then I’m going to either improvise or buy a meal that comes as close to meeting my needs as possible. I won’t just reach for what advertises itself as the lowest calorie option possible.

Like this post and share it!

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

Protein Cookie Cheat Meal in 15 Seconds

Check out this delicious Protein Cookie cheat meal recipe. I used a MyProtein Double Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie, 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter and a drizzle of honey.

protein cookie cheat meal peanut butter chocolate honey

All I did was:

1) Wrap the cookie in plastic wrap.
2) Pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds on high.
3) Smear 1 tbsp. of peanut butter across it.
4) Drizzle roughly 1 tsp. of honey on it.

Nutrition Info

Protein: 44.5 g
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fat: 18 g

 

 

Microwaving the cookie for 15 seconds solved the problem I mentioned in my recent post regarding protein snacks. They always tend to be tough and chewy. This really softened the cookie up, melted the chocolate chips, and it’s honestly a really enjoyable dessert. A regular big cookie dessert like this might have closer to 25-30 grams of fat, 50+ grams of carbs, and 5 grams of protein. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with this.

Check out more recipes on my Instagram and Facebook page.

Like this and share it with someone who needs more cookies in their life!

3 Techniques to Break Through Plateaus

If you’ve been trying to lose weight and/or build muscle, and have been successful only for your progress to suddenly stop out of nowhere, then this post is for you. I just finished speaking to a buddy of mine (and professional New Year’s resolutioner) at the PepsiCo headquarters who has been trying to take off that holiday weight. He allegedly lost 17 lbs over the last 3-4 weeks and suddenly he can’t get any more weight off. There are a few reasons this happens but it always comes down to these two main things: you haven’t changed your training and you haven’t changed your diet.

Here are 3 solid techniques you can use to bring your metabolism back to life and keep seeing progress.

1. Change Your Workout Routine

I made this number 1 because it’s absolutely the most common mistake I see people, New Year’s Resolutioners especially, make. You prepare yourself mentally, invest in a gym membership, start going religiously, and then in 3 months you’re back to spending $20+/month on a gym you don’t use. You might as well invest that $20 in the companies stock at that point. Chances are you show up and do 30 minutes of steady-state cardio on a treadmill or elliptical, run through some of the machines (doing 3 sets of 10 reps) and then leave. That might work for 2 weeks or so but eventually your body has no reason to change because it has no more stimulus to adapt to. It can handle that workout in the condition it’s in. Change up your intensity (think High Intensity Intervals), your rep ranges, the order you perform exercises in, the exercises you’re doing, the angles you’re executing those exercises in, etc. Check out my Instagram for out-of-the-box exercises. You can even go to bodybuilding.com and get free workout plans!

pushups chest home workout weightnnarmsplankpic

2. Change How You Eat

If your diet is basically the same every day, and you keep your exercises the same then why would your body feel the need to change? Once you hit that plateau and you stop getting the results you’re after, change up your workouts. After you change up your workout routine, take a good hard look at your diet. Very simple things like cutting your portions smaller can reduce the total calories you’re taking in on a daily basis. Those calories add up to lbs and then we’re back on track. It’s as simple as having 1 slice of toast with breakfast instead of 2, or switching to cooking spray instead of oil.

IG Meal

3. Think About Recovery

We’re always focused on the hard work, but we never focus on how we recover. This ties into how you eat but also think about how you sleep, how you handle stress, what supplements you take, and the rest days you take. Your mentality is just as important as your physicality and you should take it equally as serious. Make sure you sleep enough so your body has time to recover physically and mentally. Make sure you eat well so you have the right nutrients to rebuild with. Make sure you take ACTIVE rest days. Don’t sit on the couch and binge watch HBO just because you have a day off from the gym. Take your dog on a long walk, take yourself on a long walk, do a 15 minute home workout, stretch or do yoga, barrel roll. Make your workout plan something along the lines of 2 days on, 1 day off. None of this 3 days off nonsense unless your body is telling you that you really need it. Chances are you’re justifying extra days off to yourself. It should come from your body, not your mind.

supplements

Check out my friends over at 6 Pack Bags and my sponsor Scivation for more healthy living tips and workouts. My buddy Rob at Heavy Metal Kettle posts badass workouts you can do to change up your routine.

Like this post and share it with the world!

20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

Like this post and share it with the world!

20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

Like this post and share it with the world!

Easy Egg Scramble

This egg scramble packs 3 servings of vegetables, 4.4 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein in one easy breakfast! Pair it with two organic turkey sausage links or patties and your looking at closer to 40+ grams of protein. This is a staple muscle building meal in my meal plan because of its high protein, high vegetable, low fat and low carb profile. Not to mention this meal is very satisfying and keeps me full for 3 or more hours. This recipe is super easy and only takes a few minutes to cook.

Ingredients
1 whole egg, 3 egg whites (scrambled)
1 cup of raw spinach
1/2 cup of diced onions
1/2 cup of diced bell peppers
1 cup of steamed red potatoes (chopped)
1/4 cup of reduced fat cheese
1 tbsp. hot sauce

Instructions
1) Coat a skillet with olive oil cooking spray
2) Add 1 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of diced onions, 1 cup of chopped steamed red potatoes and 1/2 cup of bell peppers to the skillet on medium heat
3) Cook until the onions are golden and the spinach is wilted
4) Add your 1 whole egg, 3 egg white mix and scramble until thoroughly cooked
5) Add 1/4 cup reduced fat cheese and scramble until the cheese is melted
6) Plate and add 1 tbsp. of hot sauce

Egg Scramble

Nutrition Info
Protein: 31 g
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Fat: 9 g
Calories = 297

Nutrition Info with the Organic Turkey Sausage Patties
Protein: 43 g
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fat: 15 g
Calories = 407

Like this recipe and share it with your friends!

Follow me on instagram and like my Facebook page. You can easily stay on track using a 6 Pack Bag. I use the Expedition 300 for work and the Innovator 500 for 10-12 hour work days.

3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

If you’re actively trying to live up to your New Year’s Resolution by doing hundreds of crunches or buying products that “target belly fat” you might want to read on. I personally hate crunches because of how ineffective they are compared to other core workouts. My opinion has always been that if I’m spending 1 hour at the gym every day, I want that hour to be as effective as possible. One person’s 45 minute workout can be more effective than another person’s 2 hour workout depending on how they treat their time. Not only are crunches far from the best core workout (in my opinion) but by the time you’ve made them an effective workout you’ve spent a good deal of time (figure 5 sets of at least 20-25 reps). So you might be asking yourself why I’m anti-crunch and you might even be arguing with me in your head that I’m wrong. I encourage you to consider how our core is designed. Our core is meant for stability and rotational movement. In daily activity our core is used when we rotate our torso or hips, when we’re thrown off balance (or to keep us in balance), and to keep our body stable. Nowhere in our day to day activities are we confronted with the task of having to do 100 crunches, so why would that be the best way to train our core? These methods below are exponentially more effective at providing a more effective core workout to really sculpt your midsection.

1. Stability Exercises

These are probably my personal favorite exercises because they’re the most engaging and entertaining to me. I love anything that involves balancing on a  bosu ball, stability ball, medicine balls or TRX. If you don’t have access to any of that equipment you can train for stability by performing an exercise with one leg off the ground. You may not get a shredded 6 pack from these exercises alone but they provide a great foundation for you to advance from AND they serve a purpose in your daily activity. I also love stability exercises because you can progress easily by decreasing your stability, adding weight, increasing the time of each set, or adding in new challenges. You can regress easily by increasing your stability, decreasing your time of each set, and keeping the exercise basic. Here are some great stability exercises you can use:

Plank
Stability Ball Plank (Plank with your feet on a stability ball)
Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on a stability ball)
Double Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on one bosu ball and your feet on another)
Stability Ball & Bosu Plank (Plank with your hands on a bosu ball and your feet on a stability ball)
Medicine Ball Push-ups (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands on medicine balls)
Medicine Ball Push-ups on All Fours (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands and feet on medicine balls)

Perform 5 sets of any of these exercises for 30-60 seconds each. When one exercise becomes easy over time, progress to the next exercise or make your current exercise more difficult by adding weight or a challenge.

jen core

2. Rotational Movements

Because our core is engaged when we rotate our torso or hips it’s important to train for those motions in our routine. Try adding a few of these rotational exercises to your ab routine and see how they stack up compared to crunches.

Windmills
Half Kneeling Medicine Ball Lateral Toss
Bicycle Crunches
Russian Twist
Stability Cable Chop
Rotational Overhead Medicine Ball Slam

This is how athletes are trained to build their core strength because Performance Coaches know that crunches don’t add up to better performance on the field or court. EXOS calls this Pillar Training but you can call it working smarter.

3. Slow Down and Breathe

This is a common mistake I see a lot of people do when they’re working their core. 100 poor quality sit-ups will not get your further than 50 slow and controlled sit-ups. Slow down your movements, focus on really engaging your core, and most importantly breathe. In fact, for many core exercises, the slower you go the better. Powerlifters, mixed martial artists, and other athletes use breathing techniques for specific movements like deadlifting, swinging a tennis racquet, or throwing a punch. It’s important that you focus on how you’re breathing (or not breathing) during your exercises to make the exercise more effective. Inhaling is going to tighten up your core making it more stable in exercises like squatting or medicine ball pushups. Exhaling is going to loosen your core by decreasing pressure. Try it now in your chair. Inhale and tighten your core and record how that feels, then exhale while keeping your core tight and record the difference. It’s important that you catch yourself holding your breath during exercises or breathing wrong entirely (exhaling when you should be inhaling and vise versa).

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or comments feel free to start a dialogue!

Like and share with your friends!