Tag Archives: exercises

Build a Bigger Back

Do you feel like you’re blowing your back out by trying to blow it up? Here’s how to build a bigger back

Your back is made up of several muscle groups, big and small, that contribute to the overall size, aesthetics, and performance of your back. In fact, powerlifters often cite back strength as more critically important than arm strength when it comes to their bench press. When it comes to back workouts here’s what you want to do:

1. Keep the basics

Pull-ups, chin-ups (yes there’s a difference), deadlifts, and rows are too important to neglect if you’re trying to build a bigger back. The back fly machine is not going to give you the results you want, but it is useful for supplementing back exercises.

2. Target every muscle

Your back consists of your lats, traps, teres minor, teres major, infraspinatus, rhomboids, posterior delts, serratus, and more. Pull-ups alone won’t isolate all of these muscles and place enough stress on them individually to make them really show.

3. Mix in a variety of angles

A simple turn of the wrist can be the difference between isolating your rear delts and recruiting several larger back muscles for an exercise. For example, you can hold a dumbbell in a neutral, supinated, or pronated position for a dumbbell row and completely change the feeling of the exercises.

Here’s a back workout to try:
*Each exercise pair reflects a superset.

Deadlift: 4 sets x 12 reps
Barbell Row (Palms facing up): 4 sets x 10 reps + a rest pause set

Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10, 8, 8 reps + drop set

Bent Over DB Fly: 4 sets x 15 reps
Weighted Pull-Ups: 4 sets x 8 reps

Straight Arm Rope Pulldown: 5 sets x 10 reps
Barbell Shrugs: 5 sets x 20, 15, 15, 10, 8 reps

Trigger Point Roll for recovery: 5-10 minutes.

Check me out on Instagram for more workouts!

10 Cardio Exercises That Are Better Than Running

Tired of running? Try one of these cardio exercises instead.

Don’t get me wrong, running is a great way to get back in shape but it comes at a cost. Running is a high impact activity that over time may cause joint pain. Also, depending on the type of running you do you may find better metabolism-boosting effects with these exercises:

Cardio Acceleration Supersets for Fat Loss

1. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swing intervals are a great way to torch fat while also developing explosive thrusting strength, building the legs, core, and shoulders. Perform 5 sets of 30-60 second intervals with 30-60 seconds rest in between. This form of HIIT training will help you burn fat, build muscle and keep your metabolism boosted for up to 48 hours.

2. Mountain Climbers

Try adding 30-60 second sets of Mountain Climbers in between your lifting sets (instead of taking a break) to pump up your heart rate and burn fat in place of your resting sets. All of the cardio benefits of running without the joint impact.

3. Jumping Jacks

This classic exercise incorporates your core, hip adductors and abductors, calves and shoulders making a great way to warm up vs. jogging for 15-20 minutes. Do a few sets of jumping jacks to warm up your muscles and joints before you turn up the intensity.

4. Burpees

Speaking of turning up the intensity…any time the word “burpees” is mentioned in a group exercise class I hear a collective, audible “UGHHHH”. These aren’t for the weak of heart. Burpees are a combination of a push-up and a jump squat. At your own pace, do 5-10 burpees in between your lifting sets or for several intervals for a full-body scorching cardio and resistance workout.

5. TRX Row

Give your legs a break. Build up your back and arm strength with TRX Rows. Perform 5 sets of 25-30 reps in between weight lifting sets or superset them with a lower-body cardio workout for a full-body workout set.

6. Step Ups

Target your quads, glutes, and core by doing knee-level step ups, meaning the platform you step up on should be at your knee or slightly higher to hit your glutes harder.

7. Body Squats

Body Squats can be done any time, anywhere. Build explosive quad strength while you elevate your heart rate and develop better balance and posture. Try doing 5 sets of as many perfect reps as possible in 30 seconds.

8. Stepper Switch Foot

Set up a stepper with 4 risers (2 on each side). Place one foot on top of the stepper and the other foot slightly behind you. In one motion, explode off your back foot switching positions so the foot that was on the stepper is now behind you and the foot that was behind you is now on the stepper. Repeat for 30 seconds as fast as possible.

9. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Kettlebell Goblet Squats are a level up from regular body squats. Holding a kettlebell under chin while squatting allows you to place more resistance on your quads, engage your core more, and place extra stress on the biceps and delts.

10. Row Machine

This underrated piece of cardio equipment is probably abandoned in the corner of your gym somewhere. Several sets of high resistance rowing for 60 seconds or 250 meters at a time is a sure-fire way to burn massive amounts of calories in only a few minutes.

3 Mistakes People Make When Cutting Carbs

If cardio feels like a chore that you keep putting it off then try mixing up these cardio exercises. If you do each one of these cardio exercises for 1 minute and take 60 seconds of rest in between each set you will have done a 20 minute, full body cardio workout that is guaranteed to burn more calories and burn more fat than 20 minutes of jogging on the treadmill.

30 Minute Upper Body Workout

Are your days jam-packed? This upper body workout is designed for when you only have 30 minutes to spare.

Upper Body workout

Don’t waste any time with this 30 minute HIIT upper body workout. Using half of your lunch break to fit in some gym time?┬áSupersets, dropsets, and short breaks are all you need to get a super, upper body pump. Try this out:

Circuit #1
Push-Ups: 5 sets x 10 reps
Pull-Ups: 5 sets x 10 reps
Rest: 30 seconds

10 Different Ways to Do Push-Ups

Circuit #2
Dips: 4 sets x 10 reps
Straight Arm Pull Down: 4 sets x 10 reps
Rest: 30 seconds

Circuit #3
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets x 12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Row: 3 sets x 12 reps
Rest: 30 seconds

Circuit #4
Incline Cable Fly: 4 sets x 12-15 reps
Barbell Shrugs: 4 sets x 15 reps
Rest: 30 seconds

Circuit #5
Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets x 15 reps
Bent Over Fly: 3 sets x 15 reps
Rest: 30 seconds

Sometimes people avoid working out all together when they don’t think they can dedicate an hour of their time. This 30 minute upper body workout is designed with that person in mind. Don’t have 30 minutes? Try this 20 minute home workout.

Top 10 Exercises for Women of All Fitness Levels

top 10 exercises for women

These exercises are great for sculpting the legs, triceps, booty and core, the most popular problem spots for women. Why is that? Because for most women, this is where your body tends to store fat deposits. Try adding these workouts to your routine to tone those problem spots and add 10-20 minutes of cardio after to melt the fat away.

My Top 10 List of Exercises for Women

  1. Box/Bench Step UpBox/Bench Step-Ups are one of my favorite ways to target the quads and glutes without any risk to the lower back muscles. Once you get good at these, try holding on to dumbbells for some extra resistance. I typically do 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Because it’s a single leg movement, it’s a little too risky to go very heavy (4-6 reps) so keep it body weight-light weight.
  2. Single Leg Dead LiftSingle Leg Dead Lifts are a great way to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes while also working on your coordination, core and balance. Keeping the weight relatively light, do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps per leg.
  3. Lateral Box/Bench Step UpUnlike the instructions in the link above, you don’t need to add a knee-raise at the end unless you want to. Lateral Box Step Ups will place more stress on the glutes and vastis lateralis.
  4. Goblet SquatTarget your quads, core, shoulders (slightly) and glutes with Goblet Squats. You can do these with a kettle bell, dumbbell, or plate. Try adding 4 sets x 10 reps to your routine.

  5. Jump Squats Turn up your explosiveness with Jump Squats. Go for time or high reps completing either 30-60 seconds of nonstop jump squats or 20-30 reps. Want to turn it up a notch? Hold on to some light dumbbells or wear ankle weights and do it all over again.
  6. Stability Ball Hamstring CurlTest your balance while you sculpt your hamstrings with the Stability Ball Hamstring Curl. You’ll also hit your core and glutes with this effective workout. Try adding 3 sets of 10 slow and controlled reps to your routine.
  7. Rope Triceps Extension The triceps are a common problem spot on many women. Target them with Rope Triceps Extensions, keeping the elbow completely still and squeezing at the end of every contraction. You can try variations like 4 sets x 10 reps, 3 sets x 15 reps, 3 sets x 20 reps, etc. Toy around with them and see what works best for you!
  8. Leg RaisesFlatten your stomach by adding Leg Raises to your workouts. You can do them laying down or hanging (the more difficult version), 5 sets x 15-20 reps or until failure. Check out these Windmill Leg Raises on my Instagram
  9. Pistol BridgesAlso called Single Leg Glute Bridges, Pistol Bridges are a fantastic, weight free way to focus on targeting just the glutes. Try 3-4 sets x 12-15 reps, holding each rep for 1-2 seconds and really squeeze the glute at the end of the contraction. Turn up the intensity by placing a 25-45 lb plate on your hips.
  10. Plank VariationsPlanks are a fundamental, core building exercise. Once you get comfortable doing regular planks for 5 sets x 30 seconds, try changing up the plank. Here’s a list of different planks to try out once you get the basics down:
    TRX PlanksStability Ball PlankBosu TRX Plank Variations

Want really creative workouts? Check out my friend and amazing Personal Trainer & Coach Jess Nasuti on Instagram.

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 ┬ábosu 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:

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.

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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