Exercises To Do This Week: 10 Minute Workout At Home

Hey everybody! Today is my first attempt at a video blog post and, lucky you, it’s an at-home workout guaranteed to get your heart rate up. Join me for 10 minutes and then let me know what you think!

It’s kinda scary. And kinda cool. But mostly scary.

Now go out and run!

Exercises To Do This Week: Strong Shoulders

The shoulders are the unloved workhorse of our upper body. We want them to look awesome, rounded, strong and straight and yet, we abuse them daily by heaping huge bags on top of them and constantly rounding them forward into a terrible slumped over position that yanks on our rotator cuff muscles. Not nice. These are also the muscles that we call upon in the longer, harder miles to initiate more movement. “Pump your arms” I shout to my runners. Well, we gotta pump them in the weight room so we can pump them when we run.

Here are three exercises that work all three heads of the shoulder (anterior, medial and posterior) and helps to shape them for all of our vanity and arm-pumping needs.

#1. Upright Row

Standing with feet hip-width and knees slightly bent, grasp the bar in an overhanded position just inside of the width of your shoulders. Draw the bar up toward (but not reaching) your chin while pulling up on your elbows so that the wrists stay straight. Give a little tug to the rear at the top of the motion and release back down til your arms are straight. Start with a 20-30 bar, 15-20 reps.

                                     

#2 Overhead Press

Grabbing the bar beyond the width of your shoulders, make sure your elbows are underneath your wrists (not your wrists and the bar in front of your elbows), press the bar up and over the top of your head. Repeat 15-20 times over 3 sets.

     

#3 Bent Over Row

Support yourself with one leg in front and one leg behind so that you can table-top yourself as far forward as possible while maintaing a flat back. Grip the bar overhand and a little wider than your shoulders. Draw the bar toward your belly button, allowing your elbows to fly to the side but keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears. Repeat 3 sets, 12-15 reps.

         

With all of these exercises, if it is your goal to make your shoulders bigger, you should gradually do a heavier weight and fewer repetitions. Conversely, if your goal is to shape the look of your existing shoulders, a lighter weight (but not lighter than 15 pounds) and fewer repetitions (no more than 20, 3 sets) is appropriate for your goals.

Regardless, by doing all three of these exercises, you isolate each individual head of your shoulder as the primary muscle of the movement, thereby giving your body a well-rounded workout. If you do the same shoulder exercise over and over, you will likely 1. fatigue that primary muscle and make yourself more susceptible to injury or 2. build up just that one area of your shoulder, giving yourself kind of a funky shape to your most noticed upper body area. We don’t want that, now do we? No, sir.

Rock these out at the gym this weekend! Doesn’t Sass look amazing doing these exercises? Thanks for modeling, lady.

Now go out and run!

Exercises To Do This Week: STRONGER HIPS

Question:

Why can’t I lift my knees higher when I run?

Why does it ache on the outside of my hip?

Why does my IT band flare up all the time?

Why can’t I stride longer?

Why is my foot turnover slow?

Why does it hurt across the top of my butt?

Why do I trip over my toes when I run/walk?

Answer: Your hips are weak.

A little anatomy lesson:

The hip joint is the largest joint of your body. The anatomy of the front of the hip joint looks like this:

Image from Wikipedia

The psoas major and illiacus form the iliopsoas tendon that crosses from the abdominal cavity into the lower extremity (your quadricep area). This tendon is responsible for lifting both a straight leg and bent knee forward.

The tensor fascia lata (TFL) is the muscle belly for the dreaded Illiotibial band/tract (IT band) that steadies the hip laterally as you put pressure on your legs in the form of walking and running. It’s a hip stabilizer. Without it, the hip would pop out of the socket.

The anatomy of the rear (and most internal) part of the hip looks like this:

Image from Wikipedia

These are the hip rotators, responsible for rotating (duh) and stabilizing the hip joint.

Image from Wikipedia

The gluteus maximus (largest muscle in your rear) is the powerhouse of pushing (think sitting down and standing up) and the gluteus medius is responsible for abduction (lifting your leg to the side), rotation and stabilization of the hip.

What does this mean to you? In short, these muscles are your problem. If you’re a female, they are usually a very big problem because female hip girdles are much wider than that of men and the angle from our hip to our knee is more severe. Big problem.

These muscles stabilize your hip joint as you run and walk. Because running and walking has forward motion and rarely has lateral movement, these are the secondary muscles that keep your hip in place as you push off and catch yourself. Because they are secondary, they are often ignored in a typical strength training routine. Running and walking is choreographed falling and these muscles keep your hip from falling right out of its socket. If you swim, bike, do yoga or dance, they are the muscles that help you kick and push and pull your legs. Pretty important, right?

They are so important that most people pay absolutely no attention to them at all until they hurt like hell. Why? It’s just lack of knowledge. But you’re a smart runner. You seek knowledge before there’s a problem. That’s why you’re here.

When these muscles are ignored, you can end up with tendonitis, ITB syndrome, TFL problems, meniscus tears, lower back pain, muscle strains everywhere from your hips to your calves and a whole host of other problems. All because you’re missing three simple exercises from your weekly workouts. No longer.

#1. Leg Lift: for the iliopsoas (the one that lifts your leg and your knee)

-Lie flat on your back with a light ankle weight around your straight leg.

-Keep your toes pointed toward the sky and lift your straight leg up and down for one minute with out stopping.

#2. Abductor Leg Lift: for the hip rotators and gluteus medius

-Lie directly on your side with one arm tucked under your head and the other in front of your belly button for balance. Legs straight, one on top of the other.

-Lift your top straight leg up to just past hip height. Keep all of your toes facing forward (don’t turn them up toward the ceiling) and lower the leg back down. 1 minute without stopping.

#3. Rear Leg Lift: for gluteus maximus (big butt muscle)

-Lie on your stomach with your hands under your forehead, forehead on the ground. Legs straight, toes slightly lower than your body (see how LB’s toes are off the mat?)

-Squeeze your butt (very important!) and lift your straight leg up a few inches (no higher) and then back down, but don’t lose the feeling of squeezing your butt. The more you squeeze, the more you work.

Every single athlete, heck, PERSON in the world should be doing these exercises. They help prevent and rehabilitate the most common injuries that sideline runners by strengthen those tiny, but vitally important, muscles of the hip. This is the largest joint of the body (I know I said that already, but IT IS), so show it some love. My Radio City Rockette has learned to love these exercises and so should you! Do each of these exercises for one minute twice a week and you will be amazed at how it helps make you a better, stronger runner. I promise.

Now go out and run!

Exercises To Do This Week: All About Posture

So, runners typically have terrible posture. Runners and everyone else in the world who isn’t a professional ballerina or a yogi. Yeah, so pretty much 99.9% of the world, right? We’re all together on this one! Here are two exercise that are super-helpful with maintaining good posture and helping to keep from putting stress on your lower back. Just do it!

(Three cheers for Tampa, a very cheerful fitness model :))

#1. Swimmies

The ultimate upper back exercises to strengthen your traps, rhomboids and lats. It’s also great for shoulder alignment, as all of these muscles keep your shoulders from hunching forward, a la a certain hairy primate ancestor.

-Lie flat on your stomach (on a bench, the floor or a physio ball). Hold light weights (2-5 pounders) in each hand, palms facing downward. Position your hands so that they are just south of your shoulders.

 

 

-Keeping your arms straight, swing both arms towards your hips. Bring them back up towards your shoulders, but never above your shoulders. Always aim for your shoulders to draw away from your ears. Repeat for 1 minute 3 times.

 

 

#2. Deep Push-Ups

Most of us cannot do too many deep push-ups properly on our toes, unless you are a military person, which I am not. You might think, “push-ups work the chest, how could that help with posture?” Well, it’s the extension we’re focusing on here, not the flexion. By getting low, you stretch out the chest muscles and improve your posture along the way!

-Start on your knees (feet up) with your hips slightly lower than your shoulders and your arms wider than your shoulders.

 

 

 

-Slowly lower your body towards the ground and have your chest touch the ground, not your belly. Look slightly forward at all times so as to maintain a straight back. Do 3 sets of however many you can do until your arms shake and you can no longer push up. Usually, that’s about 10-15 for someone who works out. 3-5 for someone who is new to the sport.

Keep working on that posture, friends! Good posture during the day turns into good posture when you run. Good posture when you run means no back-aches after or during your run. No back-aches during your run means no straining the back and “pulling” it. All good things, right? Right.

Be strong. Get your weight training in. Rock it out.

Now go out and run!

Exercises To Do This Week: Rock The BOSU®

Have you ever walked into a gym and seen that funny looking blue thing that should be a ball, but isn’t a full ball? It looks like a half-ball or something. It’s called a BOSU®, meaning “both sides up”. I first saw these things when I was in college and have had a love affair with them ever since (shhhh…don’t tell!)

The cool thing about these little half-ball thingys is that the possibilities are endless. Legs, abs, back, arms, stability, you name it. Anything you can do on solid ground, you can also do on a BOSU®. There are entire classes where they use only a BOSU® and some free weights. Very cool. I’m a fan, obviously, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite exercises with you.

These are advanced exercises and should be done under the supervision of a trainer or fitness professional.

#1. Jump-backs

Grab hold of both sides of the BOSU® and squat down so that your heels are off the ground. Put your weight into your hands and jump your legs back behind you into a plan position. Make sure your feet are always together.

 

 

Shoulders and hips are at the same height. Shoulders are directly over the wrists. Gaze is slightly forward or straight down. Jump back into the start position. Repeat. When you get proficient and feel comfortable with the balance of the exercise, try doing it without pausing in both directions.

Do 3 sets of 10.

 

Jump-backs work everything all at once and get your heart a-pumpin’, too. I love them as an in-between free weights exercise because they engage the core muscles so effectively without putting stress on one particular muscle group.

#2.  BOSU® Lunges with Lateral Shoulder Raises

One foot is in the middle of the flat side of the BOSU® and arms have 3-8lb. dumbbells hanging at your side. The back leg is bent at 90º (as is the front) and the back heel is (and always is) off the ground.

 

 

 

Push off the back foot and stand up straight onto the front foot, raising your arms at the same time.Lower your arms, reach back with your back leg and lower yourself to the ground by bending your standing leg (never letting your back heel touch the ground).

Do 3 sets of 15-20 on each leg.

 

Don’t try to stay up on top of the BOSU® and balance for this particular exercise, it is meant to be dynamic and constantly moving from one position back to the other is key. This is hard, but if you keep the weight mostly in the leg on top of the BOSU®, it’s a little easier to balance. The more you move, the easier it is. So, if you’ve mastered regular ‘ol lunges already, give these a try and challenge yourself. It’s great for the glutes, quads, core and shoulder/upper back area.

In other news today: It is my return to lululemon Run Club tonight. Yay! Summer school is O.V.E.R. and I am so ready to get back with the awesome uptown runners of lululemon. Come on out and join us for an all-levels 3-5 mile run in Central Park. Ladder workout tonight! Meet at either the E. 66th St. store or Lincoln Center store at 6:30 and be ready to run. See you out there.

Tell me. What exercises are you rocking in the gym these days?

Now go out and run!

(Thanks to Rainbow Bright for the awesome fitness modeling!)