Tag Archives: core

8 Things You Need To Build A Home Gym Under $100

No time to use your $30+/month gym membership? Try a home gym instead!

No excuses, just plan and execute. Body weight training is a phenomenal, cost-free way to get in shape but it will only get you so far. You’ll want a few pieces of equipment to amp up your progress. Would it be helpful to have a bench press, squat rack, barbells, treadmill, etc.? You bet. But, if you don’t have the money to invest or the square footage necessary than I’ll show you how you can spend under $100 on a home gym.

20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

1. Body Weight Exercise List

Make a list of your favorite body weight exercises. Sprinkle in a few that you also hate, like burpees, jump squats, and mountain climbers (based on the reaction I get when I do group exercise classes and I tell people to do these exercises). Incorporate 4-5 body weight exercises in your routine for 3-4 sets each.

20 Minute Living Room Workout

2. Jump Rope

I like the jump rope because it takes up very little space, it’s a great exercise to do in high intensity spurts of 30-60 seconds, and it can pretty much be done anywhere. Invest the $10 (if that) in a jump rope for your home gym.

3. Doorway Pull-Up Bar

I just bought one of these but my roommates always had them and I used them constantly. Invest another $10-20 in a doorway pull-up bar so you can do a variety of different pull-ups, leg raises, dips, and push-ups (most are designed for multi-purpose use).

4. Ab Roller

Not only is the ab roller a tough exercise, but it can fit in a small box and costs $20 or less unless you get something fancy. An ab roller is a good way to escape planks, sit ups, leg raises, and crunches.

5. Resistance Bands

For $15 or less you can get a variety of different intensity resistance bands for your home gym. I like resistance bands because you can change the resistance based on where you step on the band so 1-2 resistance bands can actually go a long way.

6. A sturdy chair or raised surface

This won’t cost you anything unless you literally don’t own a chair in your home. Use a chair or the edge of your bed frame for exercises like dips, reverse crunches, step-ups, or other core exercises.

7. Trigger Point Rollers

Whether you use a foam roller, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, trigger point roller, tiger tail, or some other make-shift myofascial release tool, recovery is necessary and it deserves a place in your home gym. You can even spend 5-10 minutes before bed rolling out sore muscles if you don’t want to take away from your workout time because you’re under hard time restraints. These can cost you anywhere from under $1 to over $40. Budget however it makes sense to you but definitely consider adding some recovery tools to your arsenal.

4 Keys to Faster Recovery

8. Bodyweight

Because bodyweight exercises make up about 60% of my home workouts, I had to include them on the list. Learn as many bodyweight exercises as possible so you can change up your workouts every few days and hit as many muscles as possible.

Also Worth Looking Into

Kettlebells
A dumbbell set ranging between 10-25+ lbs (none of that 5 and below nonsense).
Battling Ropes (if you have the space for them)
Stability Balls
Bosu Balls
Core Balls

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.

Why You Should Include Kettlebells In Your Workouts

There are a myriad of benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workout routine every day. Kettlebells offer a change from the standard body weight, dumbbell, barbell and machine workout routines. You’re adding a new stimulus to your routine that can be used for resistance training, cardio conditioning, core prep, and grip strength

1. Resistance Training

The shape of the kettlebell allows you to train for strength and power differently than barbells and dumbbells where the weight is generally evenly distributed. Try adding kettlebells to the ends of your barbells when bench pressing and try to keep them balanced while you press. It’s a different game entirely.

Use them in your arm workouts to build your wrist stability and grip strength. One way to do this is to replace regular dumbbell hammer curls with kettlebell hammer curls. Another way you can do this is by doing tricep kickbacks with kettlebells instead of dumbbells.

Try replacing at least one dumbbell workout with kettlebells to add variety, and a new challenge to your daily strength routine.

2. Cardio Conditioning

Tired of running on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day? Change things up with kettlebell swings, kettlebell snatches, and kettlebell goblet squats. One way you can do this is by doing a circuit like this:

60 seconds kettlebell swing
30 seconds kettlebell snatches
30 seconds goblet squats
30-60 seconds rest

Do kettlebell HIIT circuits like this for 20 minutes instead of your usual cardio routine and you’ll see the difference in your core, arms, legs, and your metabolism will remain elevated for hours after your workout.

Cardio Acceleration Supersets for Fat Loss

3. Core Prep

No more sit-ups, you can use a light weight kettlebell to shred your abs with only a few workouts. Try a core circuit like this for 4-5 sets:

Kettlebell V-Up: 15-20 reps
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up: 10 reps
Kettlebell Russian Twist: 15-20 reps
Rest: 45 seconds

3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

4. Grip Strength/Wrist Training

Kettlebells are a great way to work on your grip strength and train your wrists to be less susceptible to injuries. Exercises like kettlebell turkish get-up will help train the stabilizing muscles in your wrist/forearm.

Check out Heavy Metal Kettle for some insane kettlebell workouts!

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!

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!

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