How to Add Cardio to Your Resistance Training Program

Despite popular belief the best way to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight is NOT endless cardio. Resistance training is the end all be all for that. But, that being said, does cardio harm your muscle gains? Not exactly and it depends!

Here’s a basic explanation. When you do nothing but cardio, your body learns to adapt and it tries to make itself as lean as it can to make the cardio easier for your body to accomplish. This is the opposite of what resistance training does. With training, you send a strong signal to your body to build muscle. So, the two “can” be at odds with one another. Still, cardio is the best way to train your heart muscle, and it helps build overall endurance, so it should be an essential part of your routine.

As someone who struggles to pack on muscle (and keep it on), I tend to limit my cardio. There have been times where I haven’t done it at all. A half hour walk twice per day is all I’ve done for weeks on end. Recently, though, I purchased a Peloton for my home gym and I really enjoy riding! In fact, I have to force myself not to ride every day because it does impact my lifts, tiring my muscles. How am I fitting it into my routine? Below are a few options to consider:

  1. Ride on rest days. If you do this, keep in mind that not every ride should be a burner. Mix in some low impact, too, so you don’t overdo it and ruin your stamina for your heavy lift days.
  2. Ride at the end of your resistance training workout. Depending on the type of lift you could choose a HIIT ride as a finisher, or a cooldown or beginner ride if you need something less taxing.
  3. Ride at the opposite end of the day from when you train. If you lift in the morning, ride in the evening. Still, this could be too much for your body so listen to those aching muscles and if you get too sore and/or you can’t lift as much, cut back.

My sweet spot appears to be two to three rides per week, all on rest days. I am still doing beginner and low impact rides for the most part and not overly taxing my body. I’ve noticed that my legs are stronger and more shapely since I started the rides. They are so fun, too, and completely different from the solo training I usually do.

Bottom line? You can do cardio and resistance training. You just have to be smart about it and not let one overpower the other. Staying in tune with your body is key. Happy riding (and lifting)!

How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

It’s here–well, it’s been here for a while, if you pay attention to retail–the holiday season! It’s a time when all the goodies and treats are plentiful and the atmosphere is light. If you’re not careful, you overdo it, only to recommit to a crazy diet and dry January right afterwards! But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You don’t have to go off the rails to enjoy your holiday season. Let’s take Thanksgiving, for example. It’s one day but it’s a big day when it comes to all the calories. Still, it’s possible to indulge without blowing your whole nutrition plan. Here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Eat a very light breakfast. Knowing that you are going to have a huge meal later in the day, plan to eat a lighter breakfast. A high protein meal is best. Think protein shake or smoothie, bacon and eggs, or Greek yogurt parfait. You just need something to break the fast of the night and to get your metabolism going. The protein will help satiate you so you aren’t starving by the time dinner rolls around.
  2. Exercise. Today is a good day to burn some calories to make room for your big meal. A long walk, resistance training, or even a Turkey Trot are all great options. Get up and get going!
  3. Choose healthy appetizers. If your host is serving appetizers prior to the main meal, choose wisely. Typically you will find vegetable trays or olives. If there is cheese and crackers, limit yourself to a little bit. Don’t go overboard! Maybe fill one plate and call it quits. 
  4. Drink responsibly. If alcohol is being served, go easy. Try to limit yourself to only a drink or two. If there is seltzer, choose that. The bubbly not only will settle your stomach, but also will help you feel fuller, limiting the amount of food you eat. If you must drink, make sure you hydrate. A good rule of thumb is to have one glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
  5. Pay attention to your plate. During meal time, choose your food wisely. Typically you will see vegetables or even cranberry sauce on the menu. These are healthy (well the sauce might have sugar in it but mostly healthy)! And you don’t need to put piles of mashed potatoes on your plate. A fist-sized portion is plenty! Choose your serving sizes carefully. You should be able to fit your food on your plate without it looking like a mountain of food! You can always have leftovers later!
  6. Time for dessert. It would not be Thanksgiving without pies. Have a small slice and hold the whipped cream, if you’re worried about the calories. Or choose a lighter dessert, if one is available. Typically your most calorie dense pies are pumpkin or pecan, while apple pie is a little lighter on calories. All are heavy on sugar so keep that in mind!
  7. Go easy the next day. Given all that you ate during Thanksgiving, go easy on yourself the next day or weekend following. Eat lighter than you normally would. Go for a long walk or do what we do and put your holiday decorations up. That burns some serious calories!

Some or all of these tips can help you enjoy your Thanksgiving without feeling like it’s the beginning of the end when it comes to your health and fitness! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Health Tips You May Overlook

I was recently asked to provide health tips that people may not immediately think of. In “10 Tips to Improve Your Health Today,” I outlined a few key things to remember about sleep and eating right, and reminded readers to get an annual physical with complete bloodwork.

These tips are based on my own experiences, and that of others, as well as evidence-based practice. Read more about my advice, as well as the guidance from other regional healthcare experts in the November issue of In Good Health.

 

When Should You Change Your Workout Routine?

Have you ever found yourself getting bored with an exercise routine or program? Or are you one of those people that reverts to the same kind of routine or program? Either way, you will benefit immensely from changing up your normal workout.

Much like beginner’s luck, “newbie gains” are really a thing! People who have never resistance trained or who have taken a long break will typically see results very quickly. But, if you have been exercising for a long time, you know that it’s challenging to make improvements. You have to be more disciplined with your program and track carefully to make sure you are increasing volume and/or concentrating on the right lifts to meet your goals. Even, then, it’s a struggle.

The average person doesn’t track their workouts and typically follows the same exercise modality or program day after day, week after week. Not only can this get boring, but it can also stunt your growth. This is why personal trainers who understand good programming will “periodize” the training, meaning the program will move through different types of training to help maximize your muscle building potential.

Basic programs typically start with two to three sets of about 15 reps each, moving to 8 to 10 reps, 6 to 8, and even lower. Each phase causes different adaptations in your muscles. For example, 15 to 20 reps and higher typically give you a “pump” and are excellent at stabilizing and priming your body for heavier lifts and more complex movements. The 8 to 12 rep range is typical bodybuilding style, known as hypertrophy. This is where I personally like to live most of the time! We all gravitate to something! Anything lower than 8 reps is more of a strength building style, or even powerlifting depending on the type of movements selected for the program. With strength you often don’t see an immediate pump but it is a powerful way to send strong signals to your muscles to grow!

To successfully change the look of your body, you need to be working in each of these modalities. When I program, I typically spend about 4 weeks in each phase but I have gone as high as 8 weeks in the past, if I am still seeing results and feeling good about it. I also tend to play with frequency, too. Right now, for example, I am lifting three days a week in a strength phase. Other days I will do a Peloton ride with some stretching or foam rolling. In my heavy hypertrophy phases, I have worked out as many as 6 days a week in a split type of training where I focus on legs one day, arms another, etc. There are so many ways to change things up.

The key is to be intentional about it and not change up too often. If you don’t spend the time allowing your body to adapt to a particular training type, it won’t work. That being said, if something isn’t working for you, you experience pain, or you don’t have enough equipment, then stop. There’s no sense continuing just for the sake of getting a 4-week phase completed!

Should Anything Stay the Same?

Changing up the workout periodically is important but there are some protocols that should remain constant. For example, if you are trying to build muscle, it’s essential to keep compound, main lifts a part of your routine. For me, those exercises are: squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, chest press, bent over row, and military press. Sometimes I will also incorporate pull-ups depending on what else I have going on. Those exercises work multiple muscles at the same time, maximizing your growth potential. All the other exercises you pick should complement those main exercises and help you build strength and stability for them.

You also should keep your personal goals and condition in mind. For example, if you are looking to build your shoulders, incorporate shoulder exercises more often to emphasize them. Or, if your mobility prevents you from doing squats, work on it, and consider starting with a box squat or similar regression until you are able to do squats.

Exercise programming is a science and there is a lot to consider! While you can put together a decent program on your own, consider hiring a personal trainer who can fully assess you, your abilities, goals, and situation. Everyone is different! So, an off the shelf program is a good starting point, but everything can and should be customized for best results.

How Eating More Can Help You Lose Weight

When you decide you want to shed a few pounds, what is typically the first thing you do? Lower your calories. Eat less. Maybe you move more, too. But, what if I told you the secret might be the complete opposite of what you think you need to do? 

A recent study showed that despite popular belief, our metabolisms do not slow as we age. In some cases, perhaps a person’s metabolism may slow down but not to the extent we once thought. What does cause a person’s metabolism to slow? Well, drastically reducing the number of calories consumed will do it, as can lack of sleep, stress, and lack of movement to name a few. Slow metabolisms almost always lead to weight gain. But, what if you could reverse the trend by actually eating more?

The human body needs a certain number of calories just to exist. Just to sit on your couch all day you need calories. How many calories varies from person to person, based on height, weight, and typical energy expenditure each day. If you don’t consume that basic amount of calories, you are in danger of slowing your metabolism. Your body compensates for the fact that you are not eating enough to sustain it. 

The other mistake people often make is thinking that intermittent fasting is the answer to weight loss. It may work for some people some of the time but by and large it’s not sustainable and can lead to metabolic issues in the long run. 

When it comes to weight loss many people turn to cardio first to lose the stubborn pounds, but cardio is also problematic as your body will adapt. So, if 30 minutes a day worked at first, over time you would need to do 45 minutes, then one hour and so on. Who has time for that?

What if I told you that there is a way to eat more AND lose weight? Here is my blueprint for eating more to lean out.

  • Know your macros. Macronutrients are the building blocks of our diet. Everyone needs protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to micronutrients to keep us healthy. It’s important for you to know just how much to eat each day. First, if you are trying to lose weight and you know you have a high BMI, figure out your body fat percentage. This will help you zero in on your lean body mass, which is a key number to use in order to determine the daily protein intake. If you don’t have access to a body fat analysis, you can purchase a scale that will measure this for you. It’s not totally accurate but it gives you a sense and really all you need is a ball park. You can then track your trend up or down from there. I use Renpho. Then, use a macronutrient calculator to determine total calories per day. A nutrition coach can also help figure this out for you.

    To build muscle and create a satiating effect, it’s best to aim for .8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, NOT per pound. This is a mistake many people make. If they weigh 225 pounds, they think they need 225g of protein a day, which is insane! Likely their lean body mass or “muscle weight” is lower. The other way to go, if you don’t have a way to determine your body fat percentage, is to base it on the weight you would like to be. So, if you’re aiming to be 150 pounds, consume 140 to 150g of protein a day. Protein is the first macro to set, then set carbohydrates at 40 to 50 percent of total calories and the rest should be healthy fats.

  • Eliminate or reduce gluten, refined sugar, dairy and alcohol. Gluten and dairy often cause gut issues, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb the healthy macros you are giving it. Start by avoiding or reducing them to see if you feel better. Instead, eat more vegetables! Fruit is OK, too. It’s not evil! As for alcohol, you will find that if you eliminate or reduce the number of drinks you have, that alone will help you lose weight because you will not consuming too many calories from the drinks or the snacks you’ll inevitably have with those drinks! Sugar is an issue for many people. It causes so many problems and we all consume too much of it. Reduce it and you will find that your skin looks better, you sleep better, and you will start to look better, too.
  • Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is half your body weight per day, more if you are active. Try to space out your meals so you are done eating approximately four hours before you go to bed. Our bodies work very hard to digest our food and if we eat right before bed, they spend more time digesting than sleeping well. If you quit eating with plenty of time before bed, you will find that you sleep much more soundly.

  • Speaking of sleep, make sure you get enough! Seven to nine hours is ideal, especially if you are looking to build muscle. Studies show that obesity can be caused by a lack of sleep. And, let’s face it. How many times have you make a poor food choice simply because you were exhausted?
  • To build muscle, you must lift weights. Resistance training two or three days a week is enough to build. Find a quality personal trainer who can tailor a routine to meet your personal goals. Cardio is OK but you don’t want to do too much of it. Our bodies are smart. For them to be good at cardio they need to lean out and be as thin as possible. Think about distance runners! This is the opposite of building muscle. We want to prioritize muscle over cardio. Do just enough cardio to keep your heart healthy or better yet make sure you move.
  • Move. Walk at least 7,000 steps per day and you will be moving enough. That’s about two 15-20 minute walks per day. It’s doable! Get up and move!

If you do all these things, I promise you will lose weight. The more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism will be, allowing you to consume more calories in the future! The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you can burn simply by existing! I am 96 pounds and I eat 2,200 calories a day. This is because my lean body mass is extremely high from lifting weights for so long. Muscle is so helpful to your body – you can look good, lose weight and feel great!

Have questions about this post or want my assistance with a workout routine or nutrition coaching? Contact me today for more information!

How to Eat Healthy When You’re Busy

Think about the times of the year when you are the most healthy. When do you tend to eat a healthy and balanced diet versus one comprised of fast food on the run or too many calories? For me the answer is easy. Summertime! With the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and the extra time without all the crazy extracurricular kids’ activities, I have way more time to think about what I’m eating and when. Work is less busy, too, since college students are not on campus in the summertime. But, what about the rest of the year?

The kids have been back to school now for several weeks and likely you’ve moved into a fall routine, if you’re anything like my family. For us, that means trying to find time to eat dinner let alone make it. And, at work, I often have meetings scheduled right through lunchtime! I’m so tired at night from the long work day and running the kids to practices that I am not as good about preparing my lunch. Breakfast becomes an afterthought as I rush to get to work to start it all over again. What does a busy working mom do?

You must pause and you must plan. If you find that you can carve out time on Sundays to meal prep, even if it’s just lunches and breakfasts, do it! Make yourself. You will be so happy you did when you pull the breakfast off the refrigerator shelf and the meal prep container for your lunch. I always feel better when I eat healthy. I know this. It makes me so angry when I don’t have the healthy food at my fingertips. At the same time I try not to dwell on it. We have the gift of a new day, a new week, a new month, and a new year. Every day is a day to start over. This week, I will begin anew to better plan my meals. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Make a grocery list, taking into account food you have at home so you can maximize your budget.
  2. Plan dinner for the week, including nights you will eat leftovers. Think about the weather (so you know if you can grill or not), as well as the schedule. For the busiest evenings, plan a crock pot or leftover meal. If you will have more time, add an Instant Pot meal or anything you know you will be able to handle. Add to your grocery list after you’ve decided on the meals.
  3. I grocery shop on Saturday so if I forget anything I still have Sunday. Plus that leaves Sunday for meal prep. I prep my breakfasts and lunches on Sunday plus I usually make cookies for the kids’ lunches. All told it takes me 90 minutes to a couple hours depending on what I’m making. Some of my “go tos” include hard boiled eggs, chia pudding, overnight oats, and stir fry meals. You can basically have a meat, grain (rice or pasta), and vegetables and put any sauce or condiment with it to make a perfect meal. If you can work in healthy fats, like avocado, even better. Scroll through Pinterest for the best meal prep recipes. There are also meal prep cookbooks you can buy, as well. Once you see how the recipes work, you can create your own. The crock pot and Instant Pot are your friends…use them!
  4. Each night prep anything you can for the next night’s dinner. And if you only meal prepped for a few days, pick the least busy evening during the week to prep a few more.
  5. Pick a “cheat day” for breakfast and lunch at work and it doesn’t have to be the same day for both meals. I like to grab breakfast out on Fridays as a reward for myself and something to look forward to. And I pick a day for lunch out that works with my schedule. Sometimes my meetings dictate that, if food will be served.
  6. Enlist the help your spouse and/or children to help prepare dinner each night and lunches for the next day.
  7. Consider bringing leftover dinner for your lunch the next day. Easy peasy.
  8. That brings me to the kids’ lunches. I keep it super simple: sandwich, chips, fruit, cookie, snack and healthy drink. I just buy for the week and the formula works. They like deli meet, clementines and Capri Sun the best. Snacks are everything from cheese and crackers to nuts to raisins. I don’t go crazy making sure lunches are completely and totally healthy. They are growing kids and I want them to eat during the day. I have more control over breakfast and dinner and that’s enough for me. Don’t be so laser focused that you paralyze yourself.
  9. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand for evening/nighttime. You don’t want to ruin an entire day of healthy eating by eating M&Ms with your wine!
  10. If you have macro goals, make sure your meals line up with those goals. I shoot for at least four solid days a week where I nail my macros. If I get more, even better, but I try to be realistic and not too hard on myself.

The saying is true, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” I know it even if I can’t always follow it. I hope these tips have been helpful for you. If you have other ideas on how to eat healthy when you’re crazy busy, please leave a comment below!

Can You Workout Every Day? Yes!

One of the biggest hurdles to a regular exercise program is consistency. It’s hard to stick to a program, especially since rest days sometimes throw a wrench into the routine. It is said that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. But, how can you develop a habit when you have days off routinely, as well? For me, that’s always been a challenge. It’s easier for me to have something I do each and every day like brushing my teeth! But, how can you exercise every day and make sure your body gets the rest it needs to recover and build?

Enter Mind Pump’s new seven-day workout routine. It’s insanely close to one I’ve run from time to time on my own but its structure makes sure you have everything you need to stay in shape and build muscle. I was so excited to hear the guys talk about it this morning on my way to work. In fact, I’ve already developed my own version of their workout, which I can’t wait to start. Good thing I’m finishing up my own summer six-week program this week and am ready to move to something new!

(By the way, it’s important to adjust through phases of workouts rather than do the same thing for weeks and weeks. I typically move through phases anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on the time of year and my current schedule and goals. I never do the same thing for longer than eight weeks, though.)

The way this program is structured, you get the best of everything. Two days of heavy resistance training, two days of lighter resistance training, a functional movement routine, mobility day, and a steady state cardio day in the form of an outdoor walk or hike. I have adapted the original program to add a bit more lower body resistance training, as well as my weekly Peloton ride. This is the beauty of training–everyone has their own goals, interests, and needs. Every routine is adaptable to those needs. I’ll leave you with my seven-day program below. Happy late summer training everyone!

Monday – Heavy work out

* All for 3 sets, 6-12 reps

Barbell squats

Hip thrusts

Barbell bench press

Barbell rows

Barbell overhead press

Barbell or dumbbell curls

Skull crushers

Slow sit-ups

Calf raises

 

Tuesday – Pump work out

* All for 3 sets, 15-20 reps

Curtsy lunges

Cable kickback

Cable abductor

Dumbbell flys

Dumbbell pull overs

Lateral raises

Band curls

Band press downs

Planks

 

Wednesday– Functional strength workout

* All for 3 sets, 5-10 reps

Turkish get ups

Windmills

Cossack squat

Overhead carries (25-35 steps)

 

Thursday – Heavy work out

*All for 3 sets, 6-12 reps

Deadlifts

Incline press

Pull-ups

Arnold press

Hammer curls

Dips

Reverse crunch

Seated calf raises

 

Friday – Pump work out

*All for 3 sets, 15-20 reps

Band hip thrusts

Single-leg RDL

Cable flys

Band rows

Band shoulder press

Band curls

Band press downs

Band side chops

 

Saturday – Mobility workout

MAPS Prime Pro Webinar

 

Sunday – Peloton – 30 minutes; Walk – 30 minutes

 

Going Back to the Office

This time we have ample time to prepare. Unlike March 16, 2020, when everything suddenly shut down, this time is different. We’re going back to the office. I remember lockdown like it was yesterday. The kids came home from school excited that they were going to learn from home for a “few weeks.” I was just beginning to plan out our family’s relocation for the new job I had accepted just days before. Toilet paper was scarce but spirits were still high. We had no idea what was ahead and it seemed like an extended snow day. Wow, were we ever surprised.

Lockdown lasted months. Working, and workout out, at home transitioned from a novelty to a reality. Personally, I started to enjoy my home office. I was saving money and time. I was sleeping more and eating more healthfully. I didn’t need to spend money on new clothes, jewelry, makeup or shoes. I missed interacting with people and Zoom got old quickly, but those were small prices to pay for how stress-free being at home was for me. In a few short days, that honeymoon is over.

I work for New York State and all state employees are returning to their workplaces effective July 6. Today is my last at home day with my dog at my slippered feet and my full breakfast in my belly. Today is the last day I can have lunch with my family. And, it’s the last day my car doesn’t leave the driveway. I am feeling bittersweet.

I started my job nearly one year ago, July 9, during the pandemic. I have never gone to the office more than one day at a time and have never been together with my whole team. It’s been 15 months since I commuted every single day to the office. It’s been 15 months since I had to get up as early as 5 a.m. to get my workout in, as well as have time to shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and get all my things together for work. It’s been 15 months since I crashed on my couch at 8:30, unable to do anything because I was exhausted. These things contribute to my stress and anxiety in ways I never really understood until they were absent. But, they were taken away suddenly. I didn’t have to wonder what it would be like or plan for lockdown. It just came. This time is different.

I have been thinking about the return for weeks now. It’s not that I have anxiety about the actual going back to work part. It’s more that I have anxiety about missing my more relaxed life at home. I am worried about the increased spending of time and money with my one hour round trip commute. I’m not looking forward to the increased effort to meal prep and plan both for my own breakfast and lunch, as well as for the family dinners. I’m wondering what it will be like to be so far away from my family every day, and how challenging it will be to keep up with the family activities come fall when school and everything starts once again.

These are first world problems for sure. I am fortunate to have a wonderful job and healthy family. I know this. But, I also know that my world is going to change. Again. And this time not only do I have time to prepare, I also have time to be anxious. Here’s hoping this three-day holiday weekend will serve as a positive transition and break between two separate lives for me, and that the days, weeks and months ahead will go as smoothly as they possibly can. It’s not like we haven’t all done this before, right?

Pushing Through Setbacks on Your Fitness Journey

This pandemic has rocked everyone’s world, particularly fitness enthusiasts who had to adapt to closing gyms, limited equipment, increased stress, new work schedules, and shortages of different foods. Now that we appear to be on the other side of it, bodybuilding competitions have resumed, gyms have reopened, and it’s time for all of us to get back to basics.

I stuck with my workouts this whole time, but it wasn’t without hiccups. Lots of things prevented me from sticking to my usual way of working out that works best for me to build muscle. As a result, I kept changing things up, trying new things, attempting to keep motivation and results high. And it didn’t work!

Let’s start at the very beginning. In January of 2020 I started a new leg/glute program with my personal trainer, Shawna Moran, who was piloting the program. I am always a willing test subject! It was going gangbusters and I was seeing glute development like I had never seen before. During this time, I was also considering a relocation for a new, higher level job at my college alma mater. The move would have been significant for me and my family, and I was stressed through the interview process and as I agonized over my decision. March 13, I accepted the new position 90 minutes away in Geneseo, New York. The following Monday, March 16, I had a meh leg workout and I somewhat joked with the gym folks on the way out that I hoped that wasn’t my last gym workout. There was already talk of a lockdown. Well, later that day, it happened. EVERYTHING shut down.

With the stress of the move, the lack of gym equipment, and general anxiety over the pandemic, I was stunned. Shawna gave me a home workout to continue the glute development and I quickly started to replace my usual exercises with home versions using the little equipment I had on hand, such as resistance and booty bands, dumbbells, an EZ curl bar, and an old barbell set. It wasn’t ideal but the normalcy of continuing to get up and workout was helping…a little. Still, the stress made it difficult to maintain and make any new gains.

When we got through the very stressful house sale and purchase process (during lockdown with limited housing market action), we ended up in a position where we could build a home gym in the basement. My husband, a trained opera singer, wasn’t singing due to lockdown so we took advantage of the stimulus money and finished the basement, complete with a home office/gym for me. This allowed me to significantly enhance the workout equipment edging me ever closer to near normal when it came to my workouts. But, then a strange thing happened. Nothing felt normal.

At first I thought it was my supplements or vitamins. Then, I thought it was my lack of sleep. Then, I blamed work-related stress. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling my workouts or myself. So, I took breaks, changed the frequency, and even tried new types of workouts, all in an effort to regain my workout mojo. I bought an indoor bike (a whole other sordid story – let’s just say I started with a knockoff Peloton and paid the price!) thinking having the cardio option on long winter days would help. Nothing helped. I just felt lost. This feeling was new to me. I have been working out since college and in 25 years I’ve never felt this way. The past five years in particular have been all in with me falling in love with lifting and then becoming a personal trainer and nutrition coach in 2019. I systematically tried to isolate the issue by stopping all the vitamins and supplements, prioritizing sleep, and adding a monthly massage to my routine.

This past weekend, I happened to notice a bikini pro named Kerigan Pike, who won her first pro card at a competition. Something stirred inside me as I watched her success and looked through her past posts. I realized I had forgotten how exhilarating bodybuilding can be. To work systematically on each part of your body with the goal of building muscle and curves. Split routines in a hypertrophy style… that’s my jam. And maybe now it’s time to reintroduce the supplements that gave me so much success before. I immediately set to work writing myself a new program for the next at least six weeks. I just finished phase one of a performance-based program that had a strength focus with low reps and heavy weights so my body is primed to transition to a three to four set/10 rep format. I did my first routine in that workout plan this morning and I am feeling myself! It was awesome. I feel like I am back and so is my love for this type of training.

This has been a long struggle for me and I’m sharing it because others may relate to my experience. In addition to sharing the plan (my “emerging from the pandemic” gift to you), below are some tips that might help you, if you find yourself in the same spot I did.

  1. Don’t stress yourself out trying to figure out what’s wrong.
  2. Keep a consistent training schedule no matter what it looks like. Don’t lose the habit!
  3. When troubleshooting what’s wrong, isolate the variables. Don’t get rid of everything all at once or you won’t know which thing was the problem.
  4. It’s ok to take a complete break from training.
  5. Take the opportunity to try new styles of training or new routines.
  6. Don’t wait until the first day of the week or month to make a change. Change can happen anytime (mine hit on a Friday!).
  7. Seek out likeminded individuals to help talk you through your woes. We need to support each other on this journey!

I’m excited to be back on track again and looking forward to the summer months, which are typically more active months for me. Plus, who doesn’t love to wear tank tops and short shorts to show off all those gains? Happy summer!

Summer Six-Week Split Training Program

It’s summer and a time when I feel most energized to lift. My activity is up and my stress is down. There is no better time! Below is a program I wrote for myself that you might want to try or adapt for your own goals. My goals with this program are to build my lower body, specifically the glutes, as well as my shoulders. So you will see more emphasis on both. I also included some mobility training to keep my limber, some ab work, and two Peloton days, one of which will likely be a HIIT for me. If your goal is to build muscle you definitely want to limit the cardio. Warmups and finishers are also included. Keep in mind, you may want or need to adapt depending on the equipment you have available, as well as your level and goals. For example, there is a banded leg extension listed and if you have a leg extension machine, you may wish to substitute that, which is a better option, if you have it!

I am accompanying this program with daily creatine supplementation, as well as a half a gallon a day of water. My macros are set at roughly 50-55% carbs (to provide the energy I need for my more active summer days), 25% protein (for muscle building), and 25-30% fats (regulate hormones and help meet caloric goals). I’m trying to limit alcohol and eat as clean as possible, especially since fruits and vegetables are fresh this time of year!

You can find examples of many, if not all, of these exercises on my YouTube channel, if you need to see how to perform them. If you try the program, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

FitPRMomLife Six Week Summer Split Routine 

Monday – Lower (glute focused)

WARMUP: foam roll, 90/90, banded crab walks

Hip thrust 4×10
Sumo deadlift 4×10
Single leg RDL 3×15
Walking lunge 3×10
Glute kickback 3×15
SS with
Cable abductor 3×15

FINISHER: Tabata banded glute bridge 8 rounds of :20

Tuesday – Upper (back/bi)

WARMUP: foam roll, scorpions

Deadlift 4×10
Assisted pull ups 3×10
Close grip lat pulldown 4×10
Seated cable row 4×10
EZ bar curl 4×10
DB hammer curl 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata DB curls/DB rows 4 rounds of :20ea OR Tabata inverted row 8 rounds of :20

Wednesday – Peloton/mobility/abs*

Rotational lunge
Pigeon
Stick mobility
Band pull aparts
Abs
Lower Abs
Rotational Abs

Peloton ride – choose a HIIT format

*Choose whatever ab exercise you want. Here is a playlist of some to get you started.

Thursday – Lower (hamstring focused)

WARMUP: foam roll, walk stretch

Hip thrust full/half 4×10
RDL 4×10
Step up 3×10
Hamstring curl 4×10
Banded leg extension 3×10
Calf raise 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata stability ball curls 4x:30

Friday – Upper (chest/tri)

WARMUP: Band pull aparts, stick mobility

Bench press 4×10
Incline DB press 4×10
DB chest fly 4×10
Skull crushers 4×10
Cable pressdowns 3×10
Tricep dips 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata Pushups/KB tricep press 10 reps each AMRAP for 3 minutes

Saturday- Lower

WARMUP: banded side crab walks, 90/90

Squat  4×10
Glute bridge 4×10
Bulgarian split squat 3×10
Hyperextension 3×15
Banded adductor 3×15
Calf raise 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata banded crab walk 4x:60

Sunday – Upper (shoulders)/Peloton

WARMUP: stick mobility, shoulder rotations against wall

BB shoulder press 4×10
DB side laterals 3×10
DB front laterals 3×10
DB around the worlds 3×10
DB Arnold shoulder press 3×10
Banded upright rows 3×10

FINISHER: Cable side laterals to failure