Get your Rear in Gear!

Whether you  like the gym or prefer the comfort of your own home, these are four exercise moves you can do to get your back side on track. I have recently added a couple of these moves to my routine and I am so excited to share them with you!

First, a quick anatomy lesson. In case you are unaware, your rear is made up of three main muscles: The Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, & Gluteus Minimus. To get the best shape it is important to work all three muscles. Here are some pictures I found showing you where they are & what they look like.

Now that you know what you are working with…

Here are four moves to get them in top shape.

1. Butt Lift (Glute Bridge)

A-MA-ZING! If you are not already doing these, you should be. Word of advice, if you are new to doing glute bridges take it easy… the first time I tried them I was a little over zealous and needles to say could not walk for two days. So start slow, but definitely do them!

  • Lie flat on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent.
  • Your feet should be shoulder width apart. (this is your starting position)
  • Pushing mainly through your heels, Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. (breath out as you lift)
  • Slowly lower back to your starting position (breathe in)
  • Repeat! (8-12 reps, 3-4 sets and work up from there)

Variations: One leg out at a time or Swaying Bridge

Click Here To See Video

2. Plie Dumbell Squat

Love these! Can’t get enough! You can do this one with or without weight.

  • Hold a weight (dumbbell/kettlebell/gallon of water/small child) in front of you and stand straight up.
  • Place your legs wider than shoulder width apart and bend your knees just a bit.
  • Also, make sure your toes are pointing outward… you are now in the starting position!
  • Slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. (breathe in & watch your knees)
  • Push through your heel and squeeze your glutes to bring you back to the starting position (breath out & maintain a tall posture)
  • Repeat! (Depending on how heavy your weight is I would do 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets)

Important: To protect your knees and back, make sure your knees do not extend past your toes and keep your back straight through out the motion.

Click Here To See Video

3. Glute Kickback

These are great not only for your glutes but for strengthening your lower back!

  • Using a mat if you have one, get down on all fours, keeping your back straight (this will be your starting position)
  • Breath out and lift your right leg by contract your glutes. Make sure to keep your back straight.
  • Hold at the top for a second before slowly releasing back to your starting position (breath in)
  • Repeat! (8-12 reps with each leg for 3-4 sets and work up from there)

Variation: Can be done with leg weights or a dumbbell behind the knee for added resistance.

Click Here To See Video

 4. Barbell Hip Thrust

This is a newer move for me. As will tall these exercises they can be modified and done either at the gym or at home. I do these on the edge of my bed if I am working out at home.

  • Begin sitting on / hovering over the floor with a bench (or bed) directly behind you.
  • If you are at the gym, use a loaded barbell over your legs (may want to use a pad or a fatter bar for comfort).
  • If you are at home, you can use any kind of weight… a medicine ball / dumbbells / or again a small child.
  • Make sure to place the weight directly above your hips, and lean back against the bench / bed so your shoulder blades are near the top of it.
  • Pushing through your feet and again squeezing your glutes, extending your hips vertically through the weight.
  • Your body should be supported by your shoulder blades and feet.
  • Extend as far as possible, then reverse the motion to return to your starting position.
  • Repeat! (Again, depending on how heavy your weight is I would do 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets)

Click Here To See Video

Hope you will add a couple of these moves to your next glute workout.

If you have a favorite that is not listed here, please share it in the comments below!

Bananas On A Budget

Healthy food can be expensive, but there are clever ways to stretch your dollars. One of my favorite strategies is to buy food that is on sale & freeze it for later! Some of my favorites are Chicken, Ground Turkey, Avocado, Eggs, & Bananas.

Today I am going to show you how to freeze cheap, perfectly ripe bananas. 

First, find a grocery store in your area that reduces the price of their bananas when they get really ripe. In my area, Ingles or Food City are two stores I can usually count on.
This trip I even managed to find some organic bananas that had had been put on sale!

Once you get them home, peel the bananas and break them into pieces. I usually break them in half because that’s how I use them in my smoothie recipes. Trust me, it is easier to break them up now than when they are frozen.

Then, place the banana pieces into a quart size freezer bag. I usually only fill the bags about half way up because I don’t use them all at once. This limits freezer burn from opening & closing the bag repeatedly over time.

Last, I would advise putting the date you stored your bananas on the bags so you can keep track of how long they have been in the freezer. If untouched, I’m sure the bananas would stay good for 6 months or more, but they honestly never last that long in my house.  Just remember, If you aren’t using the whole bag at once, try to get as much air as possible out and reseal it well after each use.

Not sure how to use your newly frozen bananas? Check out my Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie Recipe for some inspiration!

Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Today’s post is less a recipe and more a snapshot of my meal plan. It is a quick smoothie I have been using for my first and second meals this week. If you need an easy way to get your morning protein, smoothies are a great option!

Ingredients:
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
½ Frozen Banana
2 Scoops Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Directions:
>> Place all ingredients (except chia seeds) in the blender.
>> Blend until desired consistency.
>> Mix in Chia Seeds.
>> Drink & Enjoy!

Tip1: To save time in the mornings, I went ahead and measured out my fruit for the week.

Tip2: I split my smoothie into 2 blender bottles, that way I can mix them up again later.

I used Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds, Cellucor Whipped Vanilla Protein Powder, and Season’s Choice Sliced Frozen Strawberries. I split the smoothie in to two servings to cover my first and second meals for the day. Each serving is (403)Calories, (8g)Fat, (39g)Carbs, & (55g)Protein. 

If you like smoothies, what are some of your favorite ingredients?

Getting Back In The Groove – HIIT

After a couple months of maintaining, I am finally getting back in my groove. My friends on MyFitnessPal and Instagram have really helped get me motivated! I have been eating good and working out on a consistent basis, but it is time to up the intensity! In addition to switching up my meal plan, I am going to start incorporating more cardio into my workout sessions. Something that I have found which really helps me burn fat is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

What is HIIT?
It is a technique for training your body in which you alternate between high and low intensity periods of exercise. After warming up, you would work as hard and quick as possible (full intensity) for a short period of time, followed by a recovery (low intensity) period. An example of High Intensity Interval Training is if you were to sprint full force for 30 seconds and then walk for 60 seconds. Rinse and repeat. In addition to cardio, you can also use weights in a HIIT format.

What are the benefits?
>>   It is efficient – You can get an hours worth of progress in just 15 minutes
>>   No strings attached – Many HIIT Programs don’t need equipment
>>   Great for your Heart – Helps build endurance
>>   Boosts Metabolism – You burn more calories during & after HIIT
>>   Keep your Muscle – Unlike steady state cardio which can damage it
>>   Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Muscles get energy, not your waist

When to HIIT it?
HIIT is not something you should do on a daily basis. Most advise that you should limit this type of training to 3-4 times per week. Since research shows that HIIT raises your calorie burning power for up to 48 hours, I would suggest adding it to your routine every other day. That will give your body time to recover and be at it’s best for your next HIIT session. As far as what time of day, its really up to you. In general, it is a good idea to workout in the morning because it will kick start your metabolism and give you a nice energy boost to carry you through your day.

At the moment I am focusing on my cardio for a run so I am doing HIIT on the treadmill to increase my endurance. I have a handy mobile app, Gymboss, that helps me keep up with my intervals. To start, I have been doing shorter sprints and longer rest periods…. slowly increasing my sprints and spending less time recovering. Here are a couple examples of intervals you can try out…

Option 1:

5 minute warm up
15 second sprint (5-8mph, give it your all)
45 second recovery (2-3mph, catch your breath)
[repeat intervals for 8-10 rounds]
5 minute cool down

Option 2:

5 minute warm up
30 second sprint (5-8mph, give it your all)
60 second recovery (2-3mph, catch your breath)
[repeat intervals for 8-10 rounds]
5 minute cool down

If you have tried HIIT before, share in the comment section below what kind and what results you saw.

References:
www.builtlean.com
www.shape.com
www.fitnessblender.com

StepKids & Omelets

Usually on the weekends it is a bit of a juggling act between the kids’ extra curricular activities and my husband’s unpredictable work schedule. However, by some miracle this weekend worked out perfectly! We managed to work in a basketball game, a barbecue with friends at the park, and a family workout at the gym.

One of my favorite things about being a StepMother is getting to teach my kids something new. I especially like teaching them “life skills” that they will be able to use as adults. Recently I got the chance to do just that.

I’m not exactly sure where it came from, but out of the blue Tanner, my 13 almost 14 year old boy, asked me if I would teach him to make an omelet. Oh, how my heart swelled! I love cooking, I love teaching, and I love my kids!

So we decided I would make one first to show him and then he would make one. Of course as soon as Maddie, my 12 year old girl, heard the butter hit the pan, she was over our shoulders wanting to learn too. After Tanner and I each made one, Maddie decided to try her hand at it. They both did great!

I have created 2 little omelet making monsters 🙂

Pre-Workout Nutrition

If you want to get the most out of your workout, it is important to have an understanding of Pre-Workout Nutrition and how it affects your body. I can tell you from experience, that if you don’t fuel your body properly before you get started, you won’t get the results you are working for. Those of you that have read my Bio know that I learned the hard way. So, if you are not keen on the whole light-headed thing & you want your body running its best, today’s post is for you!

Meal Timing

There are many different ingredients that can be beneficial to include in your Pre-Workout routine. In today’s post, I want to start with the basics which will help you get started. Both Protein and Carbohydrates are important not only to fuel your workout but to help your body recover.
Protein & Carbs

(Men you need 25-45g of Protein & 30-45g of Complex Carbohydrates)

When planning out your meals, you should choose a lean protein source (i.e. egg whites or chicken breast) and slower digesting carbohydrates (i.e. an apple or grapefruit). The best way to discern if a carbohydrate source is slow digesting is to use the Glycemic Index (GI).

Glycemic Index Range

Often used by diabetics, the Glycemic Index rates foods on how they affect your blood sugar. Foods with a higher rating digested and absorbed quickly and results in raised blood sugar levels, while foods with a lower rating digest and absorb more evenly so you do not experience a sugar spike.

What does this mean for your workout? Choosing foods with a low GI as your Pre-Workout Carbohydrate source will keep you from experiencing an energy crash mid-session.

P-W Meal Example

Bottom line, what you put in your body determines how well it will perform. Make sure you are choosing the right fuel & you are well on your way to reaching your goals!

Shout out to Kalie for always giving me honest feedback. Thanks girl!

Reference Links:
www.muscleandfitness.com
www.glycemicindex.com
www.diabetes.co.uk