Archive for Workout Activities

A 20 Minute Circuit Training Session

There’s always a time when you’re stuck somewhere away from home or from access to a gym with any worthwhile equipment.  Body weight circuits are a great alternative provided you give them a real dip.

For beginners don’t worry too much about intensity, just work on using the best technique you can and work steadily.

If you are a more advanced exerciser and often do high intensity interval training then this is a great session for you too.  If you can monitor your heart rate make sure you are working in the high intensity zone – 80-90% of your maximum heart rate.  Obviously you won’t start this high, but after a few minutes in this session you should be there, and should try to maintain that level for as long as you can.

What will generally happen at this heart rate is that you will at times become too fatigued to continue.  When this happens, back off the intensity until your heart rate falls below about 75%, take a couple of deep breaths then speed up again.

First of all warm up like this… my generic warm up:

You are now going to work out mostly non-stop for 20 minutes.  It’s a hard 20 minutes but worth the effort.  Each of the following exercises is done in sequence without stopping (except as above) until the time is up.  The exercises are done for 10 reps before moving onto the next.  It’s a good idea to count how many times you get through the circuit to compare with future efforts.

Exercise 1: Sumo Squats 10 reps

Exercise 2: Mountain Climbers  10 reps per leg

Exercise 3: Switch Lunges 10 reps total (5 each side)

Exercise 4: Close Grip Push Ups (you can do modified ones on your knees if you can’t do full ones) 10 reps

Exercise 5: Squat Jumps 10 reps

Exercise 6: Alternating V Planks 10 reps total (5 each side)

Finish with some stretches for a few minutes to cool down.



A Core Strength Session

Core Strength

Many clients come to me as remedial massage clients with a range of complaints generally related to lack of core strength.  Sore or tight lower back, ilio-tibial band soreness, shoulder and neck hypertonicity can all be related to muscular imbalances caused by lack of core strength.  So what is core strength?  It’s not just strong abdominals, although they are the major part of what is normally lacking, but rather it’s the whole package of abdominals, upper hip flexors, lower back and gluteal/piriformis muscles involved in postural positioning.  A lack of core strength, or even an imbalance between abs and lower back muscles results in a forward pelvic tilt which manifests itself in pain in the lower back, inability to touch your toes (the hamstring isn’t necessarily tight, it’s just in a stretched position at rest) and possibly knee pain caused by poor patella tracking when quads are over tight and shortened.


How Do I Fix This?

The best way to fix core strength issues is to do a range of core exercises that encourage proper anterior and posterior core balance and do these exercises on a regular basis – for example evey second day.  Below is an example of a core strength program that requires minimal equipment (just a stability or ‘swiss’ ball) and has exercises that can be made more difficult as strength increases.  You’ll notice that there are no sit ups or crunches.  The most common core imbalance is where the hip flexors overpower the abdominals causing the forward pelvic tilt I mentioned above.  Incorrect technique with crunches or full sit ups is often a contributing factor where the hinge point is not understood.  You are supposed to bend in the middle of your abs, not at the hip, but you have to have a reasonable grasp of the anatomy of the area to understand this.  It’s better to avoid these exercises in favour of more general core stability activities.

Running the Session

Warm up first

The core strength session is run as three ‘supersets’ – that is you do two exercises one immediately after the other, without a rest, then rest for a minute before the next superset.  With this session, you’ll do each superset three times and each exercise according to the information below.

Superset One

Ball Rollout followed by Ball Leg Curl.  Do three sets of this combination as a superset.  No rest between the first and second exercise, one minute rest between supersets.

Focus on holding your abs tight – as if you are about to be punched in the stomach – as you roll forward slowly.  Return to the start position at a faster pace ready to repeat.  Rollout 12 times

This is ostensibly a hamstring exercise in  line with correcting the quad/hamstring balance mentioned above, but to complete it properly you have to maintain the hip angle (attempt to keep you hips in a straight line) and tuck your lower legs underneath.  Keep your bum off the ground and hips straight.  Out slow, in a bit faster. 12 reps each set.

Superset Two

Side plank, front plank, side plank.  Do a sideplank on one side for 30 seconds, then a front plank for 30 seconds, then the other side for 30 seconds.  Rest one minute.  Do three sets of this combination.

A side plank can be hard for beginners, so maybe start with 20 seconds and build up to 30.  When 30 seconds is comfortable, add another 15 seconds.  Sometimes just holding yourself up in the side plank is too hard.  Use your hand from the free side to support yourself until you can do so without it.

Superset Three

Jackknife followed by Oblique Back Extension.  12 jackknifes immediately followed by 12 back extensions each side.  Rest one minute.  Do this superset three times.

Support your weight evenly on your hands and the ball. starting with the ball touching your hip bones.  You can start with the beginners’ jackknife tucking your knees to your chest, and as you get used to that, do the more advanced version where you push your hips to the roof.  Keep you legs as close to straight as you can with this one.

Start with your feel against  the bottom of a wall for support.  Raise to one side, return to the start and raise up to the other side.  There’s no need to hyperextend your back.  In the ‘old’ days you would never go past extension, but as long as you’re not too explosive with the movement a little past straight is not a problem.  Reasonably fast up (not too explosive) and slowly return.

Cool Down

Do some quick stretches to help you settle down from your session (see this for why), and ensure you drink afterwards.  If you’ve done the session properly you should have raised a sweat.





A Bodyweight Resistance Training Session

Here we start our series on training you can do at home.  

I’ll show you a program you can do yourself with minimal equipment in a short period of time a few times a week to help you increase your fitness and improve your body weight.

As with all new exercise programs, if you haven’t done much recently, speak with your GP or health professional before you start to make sure the session is suitable for you.  

Before you start, of course, you must warm up.  Here’s a suitable five minute warm up similar to what you would do during one of my one- on-one sessions.

This program consists of four supersets.

A superset is a pair of exercises done one immediately after the other with no rest.  Usually each exercise has a different or opposite prime mover from the other, although sometimes we can blitz a particular muscle group.

The program works on intensity.  The more intensely you can do the session within the limitations of your fitness and injury issues, the more benefit you’ll get from it.  You should record the number of reps you do of each exercise and aim to improve this every time you do the circuit.  The increase in improvement is essential to apply the overload principle and ensure that your body makes changes to adapt to the new activity.  This adaptation is what causes fitness improvement and body weight losses.

I use a fitness app on my iPhone to do this, and there are plenty to choose from.  I use Full Fitness but you can choose one that works for you or even just write down your progress.

We start the circuit by doing the first exercise of the first superset for 30 seconds, immediately followed by the next exercise for 30 seconds and then a 30 second rest.  Each superset is done three times like this in total before you move to the next superset.  So you’ll spend four and a half minutes on each superset.

Superset One,

1. Push up 

2. Resistance band pull.

Your push up can start like this.  A beginners’ push up on your knees.  Your weight should be on your arms, and you should bend your elbow until your chest touches the ground and then return to the start position.  Do the down phase slowly, and the up phase as quickly as you can.  

Modified Push Up   (click on the link and wait… it will come up in another window)

Once the beginner push up gets to easy, you can do a cheat’s push up like this.  The down phase is done with a straight body, and the up phase with knees on the ground.  Again, the down phase should take twice as long as the up phase.

Cheat Push Up  (click to view)

When the cheat push up is too easy, do full push ups like this.  Try to put your chest on the ground.  Down slowly, up twice as fast.

Standard Push Up (click to view)

As you improve you can progress to a close grip push up with your elbows in at your side.

Close Grip Push Up (click to view)

After 30 seconds stop your push ups and pick up your resistance band.  You can pick one of these up at kmart fairly cheaply, or send me a text and I’ll give you one for free.  Stand tall, fully extend your arms, and return.  Pull out quickly and return at half that speed.

Band Pull (click to view)

Do 30 seconds of push ups, 30 seconds of band pulls then rest for 30 seconds.  You’ll do this another two times for a total of three before you move onto the next superset.

Superset Two

1. Prisoner Squat

2. Stability Ball Roll-Out

These are done the same way.  30 seconds of Prisoner Squats like this remembering to go down as low as you can with your weight on your heels.  Down slow, up fast.

Prisoner Squat

Then immediately onto 30 seconds of Stability Ball Roll Outs.  Tense your abdominals as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach as you roll the ball out to full extension

Stability Ball Rollout

Have 30 seconds rest, then repeat again to a total of three times.

Superset Three

1. Stability Ball Leg Curl

2. Stability Ball Plank

Again, 30 seconds of each exercise followed by 30 secs recovery and repeat for a total of three times.  With the leg curl it’s important to start with your backside off the ground and keep it off for the whole set.  Notice that the bend is mostly at the knee and not at the hips.  The hip angle should remain mostly straight throughout the exercise.

Stability Ball Leg Curl

Then just turn over for the plank.  Again, tense your abs as if someone is about to punch them and maintain a full extension without sagging in the middle.  This shouldn’t happen if you’re tensing them anyway.

Stability Ball Plank

Then onto the last superset.

Superset Four

1. T- Push Ups

2. Stability Ball Gluteal/Hamstring Extension

The T-Push ups can be done either modified like this

T-Push Up Modified

or with full push ups like this

T-Push Up Standard

and as usual count your reps for 30 seconds then go immediately onto the extension

Stability Ball Gluteal Hamstring Raise

Taking care not to hyperextend to any great degree.  A little bit past straight extension is ok but there should be no pain other than fatigue in the working muscles.

30 seconds of these followed by 30 seconds recovery and then back to the T-Push ups to repeat the superset to a total of three times.

Making It Harder

As you get better at the exercises and can do all of the advanced techniques outlined, you will need to make the session harder to maintain an overload as mentioned above.  There are three ways you can do this.  Firstly, go harder in the 30 seconds of each activity, ensuring you are increasing the number of reps whilst maintaining your correct technique.  There will come a time when the technique doesn’t allow you to do more in the time allocated.  Increase the time for each activity to 40 secs, then 50 secs, then one minute if you can.  Alternatively add a set to each superset so that you are doing four sets instead of three.

After six weeks though, it will be time to change your program.  It’s very tempting to get in a groove and keep doing the same thing for ever, but if you want results you have to change things around regularly.  You could take up some of my other sessions… The next one focuses on doing a whole session with one set of dumbbells of the same weight.

Stay tuned…

You can, of course, short cut the whole thing by booking in for a session with me.  We’ll do a short physical assessment, I’ll show you all the session and check your form, and we’ll run through it in real
time.  You can book by sending me a text or book on clickbook, accessible from the Fix Your Body FaceBook page.  First book a free assessment then we can book a discounted personal training session for a time that suits you.