Tag Archives: muscles

5-Minute Protein Pancakes

So I’m still prepping for contest, so I’m upping my protein and lowering carbs somewhat. It’s about two hours before my second workout (just cardio) and my tummy is rumbling. Hmmm…what to eat? I don’t want to eat any straight-up carbs (during this LAST week of contest, I’ll get my carbohydrate grams from other sources like veggies and shakes) like cereal or oatmeal, I don’t feel like having tunafish or a salad, but I could always use more protein. Hmm…oh yes–protein pancakes! I had played around with a recipe before, didn’t quite get it how I wanted it, so I used this recipe and altered it a bit to fit my needs. It’s extremely easy and filled me up without feeling sluggish.

Oooooh yes!

Oooooh yes!

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5 Ways to Stay Focused on Your Goals

If you’re one of our followers, you know I’m going through contest prep right now. It’s been a 6-week contest of cutting fat and building lean muscle, trying to create a “transformation.” Since my willpower week, the clean eating has been a cinch. Well, except when I went to Iowa for family reunion and had ice cream on a daily basis. After that vacation, it was hard to get myself as motivated as I was beforehand. I still followed a good eating plan and exercise routine but I wasn’t as into it, so I’d fall into some bad habits–mostly, it’s picking at food I shouldn’t have. We all sometimes have trouble staying focused on our goals and here are some tips to stay on track

1. Set your phone background to something motivational. I know what I want and I know how I can get it. But there’s always the gap of emotion, laziness, and impulse. This is a way to bridge that gap. Take a photo that inspires you, could be a picture of a physique you want or a place you want to get to. Whatever your goal is. Email it to your phone and set it as your background so that every time you look at it (and we all know our phones are with us 24/7). I even went and added some text to mine to remind me of my bad habit and stop my hand from snatching a little piece of something.

HOPE solo inspiration

A great motivator for me

2. Go back to the first image, post, “thing” that started you on this path. We all become inspired to complete a goal, one way or another. For me, for this goal, I was inspired by the contest page. Chris showed me the contest and he thought I could do well, maybe even win. I never thought I could win (okay maybe before I saw all the rest of the people joining), but his confidence in me and my imagination of what I could  transform my body into. It was a chance to test my willpower, to see how hard I could work. I look at that page and I feel those same feelings and I become inspired again.

3. Imagine yourself at the end. This is a huge one for me. I can feel tired after a day’s work, I can feel lazy, and make up some excuse of why I shouldn’t go 100% that day. But all it takes for me is to imagine myself at my completion, imagine what I can become, and that inspiration pops right up again. If your goal is to save enough money for a vacation to Greece, imagine yourself on the beach. If your goal is to lose those x number of pounds, imagine what you will look like, what you will feel like. I always like to imagine how strong I will become, mind, body, and spirit.

Actually developing some abs

Actually developing some abs

4. Set a schedule on your calendar. Whether you have a smart phone or a hard calendar (we have both), plan the days of your week. I used to do this a lot during college when I set up training sessions with my friends. And for this last week of the contest, I am scheduling my workouts each day. You don’t have to schedule all the way down to what exercises you’re going to do, but a general plan. Maybe back and biceps with a little cardio on Monday, Yoga and HIIT training on Tuesday, and so forth. Put it into your calendar (it’d be great if you could do reminders and alerts with your smart phone if you have one) and put the times too. Make what you want a priority, and that means making solid time for yourself.

Set a date!

Set a date!

5. Track your results. Whether that means calculating body fat percentage or watching your savings account go up, TRACK IT. Maybe you don’t see a difference (though you probably will), keep reality-based checkpoints that you can measure with. I hadn’t measured for a while and I finally did, finding that I had lost 2% body fat. It’s a great re-motivator if you feel like you’re hitting a plateau or sliding away. Find some way to track your results and goal, no matter what it is.

Seeing progress

Seeing progress

Those are 5 simple things you can do anywhere, anyhow. If you feel yourself sliding, try one of these tricks. They are sure-fire to keep you hungry and fit! 

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Kitties from the other side of the window

Kitties from the other side of the window

Listen to Your Body

Listen to your body. It is a simple rule that many many many of us tend to forget, including myself. Well, perhaps forget is a rather passive word, but instead ignore. And what do we do? Keep pushing our bodies even though it’s saying, “Um, hi! I’m done now, please stop!” Many of us will call this “wimping out” or just a complaint that can be pushed through. But that is where you need to acquire a skill.

This skill is understanding and knowing your own body. Picking up on the language that your body uses to communicate with your mind. Often, beginners to fitness are a little out of tune with this language. It’s taken one of my clients several months to come to the point where he can really tune into his body and understand when it is telling him to stop or push just that one rep farther.

Working it right

Working it right

Take the time in your next workout to feel out what’s going on with your body. Try to learn the difference between muscle pain (good) and joint or tendon pain (bad). If your muscles are filling with lactic acid, you can feel that pressure, that burning pain, but you know you can just do one more rep to push your body to the proper place. And if you feel your elbow joint or rotator cuff hurting with a sharp pain as you continue to bench press or curl, you know to stop before pushing yourself to injury. You have to walk that tight rope of pain. You have to know which is which.

If you’re unsure, ask a trainer. Point out what’s bothering you and they can tell you if that’s A-OK (ripping muscle fibers to make them stronger!) or a big NO-NO (overly-stressing a joint or ligament). If they’re a good, quality trainer, they will want to help you. Don’t be afraid of asking. It could save you an injury or make a workout that much better.

Chris taking a rest day with the kittens

Chris taking a rest day with the kittens

Don’t be (too) stubborn. Now here, I really need to take my own advice. Tonight we did a chest and triceps workout (here’s a sample). My (we think) rotator cuff has been a bit strained and stressed lately and can get pretty painful with certain exercises like push-ups, chest press, shoulder exercises, and other triceps exercises on the bench. I endured it pretty well tonight, but it kept me from completing as full sets as I would like. However, even though I wanted to push myself harder, I knew that it was worn out after a good number of supersets. I wanted to do another superset or so, but I held back. I didn’t want to seriously injure anything. Often, I can be way too stubborn for my own good, but here is a prime example of listening to your body.

Working myself to a good place where my skin needs to get tougher!

Working myself to a good place where my skin needs to get tougher!

So next time you’re in the weight room or out on a run, keep a finely-tuned “ear” to your body and listen to it!

Cheers! And let us know if you have any questions!

Give Your Body [SPECIFIC] Love

Weird title, right? For me, love has a lot to do with health, especially when it comes to one’s body. And it’s very important to love your body. And a way I do that is giving it great workouts. Why do I say specific love? Let me tell you.

A lot of people who aren’t really into fitness or go to the gym as a chore, typically do total-body workouts. Meaning that they will try to work each part of their body (from back to chest to legs, etc.) in one workout. And if you do that workout properly and hard enough, each and every muscle group will be sore.

So I have a question. What are you going to workout the next day if all body parts are sore?

Which is why I say SPECIFIC! You don’t have to be a meat head, a fitness buff, or even in shape to split workouts up properly. You’ll be amazed at how much more effective each workout will be. Usually spend 45 minutes on a total body? Imagine 45 minutes spent just on your legs. Now there’s some defined calves.

And specific doesn’t necessarily mean one muscle group each workout, it could mean two or even more. Usually, we split our workouts into two muscle groups each. For example, yesterday we did back and biceps. Another day we would do chest and triceps. Another day? Shoulders and forearms. Legs we usually keep by itself because there are several large muscles to work (calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, etc.) And so on and so forth. I think you’re getting it. If you want, you can even split it into upper body and lower body workout days. But that will only work if you’re only working out 3 or so days of the week.

By the next day, you’re going to be sore in whatever you worked out. And by the second day after, you should be even more sore. But soreness to me equals happiness, because I know that muscle group is getting stronger. I’ll keep using us as an example. So we worked our back and biceps last night (great workout by the way), which are going to be sore today and tomorrow. Thus, tonight we will most likely work out chest and triceps, core, or something else.

There are so many pros to this way of working out and a very slim amount of cons. The specific muscle groups will get stronger by isolating them, they will develop more quickly, gain endurance, and toning. You will not have all body parts feeling sore and tired thus preventing a good workout.

You have the ability to isolate your workouts. Do it! I hope you can now understand how much better it is. AND it also makes it easier to plan out your workouts, thus making it easier for you to actually workout. I find it’s always easier to follow a workout plan (even if I’m feeling meh that day), because it’s written down what I’m going to do. Trust me, just try it.

Tell us which muscle group is your favorite to workout!

How to Get Thor-Like (or Wonder Woman-like) Legs without Machines

Sometimes in life, you don’t have all of the resources you would like. When it comes to fitness and gyms, you may not have all the equipment you would like (or think you may need). This is actually something we’ve stumbled upon as the Boulder Rock Gym doesn’t have many (or any) machines, not counting cables. It is very tough to do a leg workout without machines because it’s difficult to isolate and work each muscle of the leg. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and honey, we’ve got it!

All you really need is 30 minutes to 1 hour. Not bad! As you might have read in our last postwe’re not in the shape we’re used to, so this was a relatively light workout for our standards, but nonetheless, a good leg workout (without machines). Let’s get started.

1. Start with a warm up. Since this is a workout “without machines,” ignore what we did (biked), and go for a run or use a real bike. Try for 15-20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.

2. Strength time. Get some weights, a barbell, whatever you have. You can always be flexible and substitute for what you don’t have. It’d be great to pull out a jump rope too.

Start with squats. This can be with dumbbells, barbell, or just with your body. I wanna see 10-15 reps, 3 sets. 

Chris performing proper exhalation. VERY IMPORTANT

3. We did a superset (meaning performing a squat and then, with no rest, another exercise), matching squats with jumping rope for however long the other did squats.

4. After that, we did (explosive) step-ups with weights. Get something you can step up onto, at least a foot high. You could use a bench, a chair, whatever. I used our couch the other day (oops). So basically, step onto the platform, weight in hand, and raise your other knee as you do so. Let’s go for 8-15 reps, 3 sets, reps depending on what amount of weights you use.

5. And, for a superset, we did box jumps. You can see the “box” in the left part of the picture above. Basically, do as many jumps over that as you can while the other person finishes their step ups.

6. By this point, we’re feeling pretty tired because most of our exercises have been high-intensity cardio. We move onto plie squats, which I covered here. Turn your feet out with wide horse stance, squat, turn left lunge, then turn right lunge. That’s one rep. Again, look at the other post for more details. Try to get 8-10 reps, 3 sets. 

7. Finally, we end with deadlifts. This is basically a squat, but you start at the bottom position. Keep your back straight and form pristine. 8-12 reps, 3 sets. 

And there you have it. Afterwards, we were pretty exhausted, but we did bouldering for 25 minutes anyways, making our forearms scream. You just need to push yourself to your potential, you can make something great out of any workout. And you didn’t need any machines for this great leg workout! Remember, this workout does not take long. Again, let us know if you have ANY questions, we would really love to help out.

Cheers!

Holding on for Dear Life

Yes, that’s us: desperately wedging our chalked, cramped fingers into the cracks of humongous rocks, boulders, and man-made wedges. We have started the awe-inspiring sport of rock climbing (thanks to Marga and Megan). It’s an unreal workout, working your finger tips, to your hips, to your toes and leaves you feeling incredibly sore the next day–especially in the forearms.

Boulder Canyon

One of our first days of just arriving in Boulder, Marga and Megan took us to Boulder Canyon to do our first outdoor climbing. We had both done various indoor climbs, just for fun, and nothing serious. This was a whole different story. The fresh air whipping past you as you’re trying to figure out a reach to your next hold, the incredible view from all sides, the real-life feeling that gets you energized–all on nature’s rock. It’s great. You feel giddy afterwards, even us rookies on easy climbs, once you finish, because you look down from the top and feel pretty awesome that you climbed all that (with amazing belayers).

I think our first climb was a 5’6, a standard ‘easy’ one, and it was a blast. Now, Chris is afraid of heights (pretty much the only thing he’s scared of), and he crossed the tyrolian which is two ropes doubled over secured between either rocks or a tree or rocks and rocks which hangs over a river. And then, he goes ahead and climbs up a freaking mountain. Pretty awesome for facing your fears, I’d say. Anyhow, unfortunately we didn’t get pics of that climb, it was so much fun.

Fred using the tyrolian to cross the river

Our next climbing adventure was indoors at the Boulder Rock Club, a totally immersive climbing gym with tons of walls and a pretty unique gym area too. Tons of levels of climbing from 5’3 to 5’12+ (something I won’t be able to even try for at least a year). We had a chance to do a bunch of them, trying out our skill with no fear of falling. We also got to try out bouldering, an activity Chris really loves. It’s just climbing low to the ground (but still very hard stuff), so you don’t need equipment. It’s a killer workout and really fun to challenge yourself with it.

Chris on the rock wall

And finally, I got out on another trip with Marga, Megan, and Fred. We went to Boulder Canyon again, but this time in Avalon. For me, it was definitely a step-up difficult-wise. The climb was a 5-7+ and it was at a slant with less big boulders and rocks to grab onto and more just flat surface with cracks in the rock to jam your fingers into.

The hike there was pretty nice, too, very steep and climbing up rocks (but not exactly rock-climbing). We got to use the tyrolian there too (as seen in picture above).

So on this climb, I struggled a bit more in where to place my hands and feet. It’s not about grabbing as hard as you can. It’s kind of like an art: it’s about grace, balance, and pressure. You just need to lightly snug your fingers onto a hold (even the smallest of holds) and you will find support. I also found that I definitely need to work on my flexibility as I almost pulled my groin as I was reaching up for another hold. But, again, that feeling when you get to the top is great. And if you know me, I love feeling sore or even having tired muscles the day of.

Marga very generously donated her old climbing shoes to me so I am slowly on my way to getting all the gear (kind of an expensive sport). We’re on the hunt for some shoes for Chris. Also, once we feel steady money-wise, we definitely want a membership to the Boulder Rock Club as they have great climbs but also a cool gym with equipment like rings, finger holds, and a rope. I am so grateful for my family introducing us to this sport, it’s something we will DEFINITELY be pursuing.