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Over the past few months, we have all experienced unexpected and uncertain times as the Coronavirus has changed our lives in ways we may never have imagined.  Our jobs, routines, entertainment, favorite places, have all been restricted, temporarily closed, and in some cases may be gone for good.  What once seemed like a dream goal – to be able to work from home and have more “free time” – suddenly doesn’t seem so great as much of this has now been beyond our own personal control. 

So how does one keep focused, continue to work towards goals, and make progress during these uncertain and trying times?  The key, like with all things, comes down to having a healthy mindset.  The circumstances we may find ourselves in may not be of our own choosing but navigating those and responding to those is completely within our control.  Here are 10 ways to help stay positive and find the inner strength to keep moving forward during this lockdown phase and beyond as the world begins to reopen, and most likely be quite a bit different.

ACCEPTANCE OF THE NEW NORMAL

The popular motto, “Start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can” applies here. Dwelling in the past, focusing on how this isn’t how it was or is supposed to become a self-defeating mindset. It promotes the notion that you are now stuck and waiting for things to return to how they used to be. This becomes a period of no progress because your mind has you convinced that you cannot do anything until you are back to “regular life”. 

TO AVOID THIS EXCUSE AND MENTAL TRAP, ACCEPT HOW THINGS ARE – WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM OR NOT IS IRRELEVANT. WORK WITHIN THIS NEW NORM. YOU ARE NOT STUCK. YOU CAN WORK DIFFERENTLY AND FIND NEW WAYS OF DOING THINGS AND ACCOMPLISHING GOALS IN THE PRESENT. DIFFERENT YES, IMPOSSIBLE AND STUCK, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL

We are all experiencing a wide array of emotions at any given time and sometimes even all at once. There is no right or wrong way to handle the events and uncertainty we now find ourselves in and so know that no matter what you are feeling is perfectly real and allowed. Do not try to evaluate your feelings through strict filters of whether or not they are “normal” or acceptable, or worse, through a lens of what others deem acceptable. Let your thoughts and emotions flow and know that you should feel each of them. Process them and let them pass through you. Reach out and share your thoughts, worries, feelings, the highs, and the lows with other people. You are not alone and now more than ever it is important to know that and realize we are all feeling all sorts of emotions and they are all valued and enough.

SET GOALS

When our lives were first thrown into disarray as schools and businesses moved to work from home models, restaurants and other businesses shut down or adopted new models there was great uncertainty thrust upon us. No one knew how long this would last and there were many more questions than answers. Even now as there are the beginnings of re-openings and some return to normalcy, albeit a new normal with guidelines and regulations in place, there is still a lot of unknown, most of which are beyond our control.

One unprecedented outcome of this shutdown is the amount of time we now have in our day-to-day lives without the constant on the go from activities, appointments, and other obligations. Use this time and make the most of it each day. Create goals in any area of life in whatever interest you may have. Some days the goals may be as basic as going for a 20-minute walk and doing the dishes or laundry. Another day the goals may be larger and even more ambitious. Either way, make them achievable with a little work and hold yourself accountable for seeing them through. Also, set some longer-term goals from a week to a month to 6 months and beyond. Give yourself a focus to work towards. This is within your control and puts the power and responsibility back in your favor.

THE LACK OF CONTROL OVER EVENTS IN OUR OWN LIVES CAN CREATE GREAT ANXIETY, STRESS, AND DEPRESSION, JUST TO NAME A FEW NEGATIVE OUTCOMES. GAINING CONTROL OVER THOSE PARTS OF OUR LIVES IS PARAMOUNT TO LOWERING THAT ANXIOUSNESS AND HELPING US GAIN A CLEARER AND MORE RATIONAL PERSPECTIVE OF LIFE AND ITS EVENTS.

KEEP/CREATE A ROUTINE OR SCHEDULE

As many people are now working from home and having most other activities and events canceled, daily routines can easily be completely upended. While there are many changes happening, it is important to create a new routine in the new environment. Some key points in scheduling a routine to consider:

  • Having a set morning routine, getting up at the same time, preparing for the day, setting tasks and goals to complete.
  • Have a set “working time” each day if possible. Be able to schedule mini-breaks during that time as well as there may be family needs and issues to attend to with children being home from school and using remote learning or others that need to be taken care of during this time.
  • ​Build-in self-care whether that means having a fitness routine, meditation, a walk, whatever is necessary to take care of one’s own mental and emotional well-being.
PLAN YOUR DAY

This goes along with setting goals and keeping a schedule. One of the most efficient strategies in accomplishing this is planning your day the night before. Whether you use a physical or virtual planner, lay out the items you need to do, want to do, and build in some time for yourself and self-care and also downtime too. Before this shutdown, our days were filled with work hours, family obligations, errands, appointments, etc. That schedule was your normal. In this time, create your new schedule and plan each day. While your planner/calendar may be filled differently, there is still a sense of normal routine, accomplishment, and again control over yourself and your immediate surroundings.

WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

Traveling to a great vacation spot may not be in the plans, or even feasible or practical right now, but a day trip to a nearby park or scenic area might be. Do not discount the many benefits of just getting out of your house and town and taking in some new scenery and the time to relax and enjoy nature, a few close people (even at a distance), and just a little time away from social media and constant news reports and reminders of the state of our world.

EXERCISE

With gyms and fitness centers closed continuing one’s former training program may be difficult. It is easy to buy into the excuse that you will just wait until they open again to get back to your training or take on a cardio-only approach. That will work for some, but for many of us, training is an important facet of our lives and so much more than simply lifting weights. It provides an outlet for so many things as well as keeping us healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Find ways to build in a fitness routine that is both challenging and keeping you working towards your goals. There are many online workouts being offered that one could take advantage of at the moment. No equipment – look around and get creative. As a natural pro bodybuilder, taking time off was not in this author’s plan. However, with zero weightlifting equipment at home, it was time to get creative. The solution has been a mix use of logs (found down the road), weighted backpacks with sand, bricks, tools, and rocks, wheelbarrows, and even cars to create some of the most challenging and demanding workouts to keep training throughout this shutdown.

For many, exercise is vital. Carve out a time and schedule to execute workouts or even build in new types of exercises or modes of fitness. It is something within one’s control and the benefits will go far beyond the actual time it takes to complete a fitness workout.

CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

Most of us have now heard of virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Meet, etc. Many may already be using this as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. When in-person gatherings are not possible, definitely take advantage of engaging with friends and loved ones, who may be anywhere in the world, and connecting virtually. There are online games and escape rooms for groups of people to register and play together. While this may not be the same as meeting up to solve one of these rooms or games, it is still a needed outlet for comradery and social interaction. We are human and need and crave contact with others. When conditions allow, plan to meet up with a few friends or family members in ways that everyone is both comfortable with and within the guidelines that we now find ourselves in as we venture out of our houses once again. There are great power and comfort in connecting with others and sharing stories, emotions, and life that may have nothing to do with Covid-19.

FUN

Build time for fun into your days and weeks. Even with many places closed, creating simple and fun experiences are not out of the question. Drive-ins are opening in many places. Ice cream shops are open for takeout. Parks and hiking trails are accessible again. Game and movie nights or have the family make their own ice cream sundaes are a few examples that don’t require much money or planning and can create some relaxed and enjoyable moments.

Even if working from home, try to schedule breaks throughout the day for fun and carefree moments either alone or with others. This goes a long way to impact our mental well-being in a positive light.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW.

Now it could be a great time to take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, or do something you have been telling yourself you will do “when you have more time”. Read that book you have been wanting to read and keep putting off. Start planning a new business. Take up a new discipline. Learn new recipes to make sticking to your nutrition goals easier. Try whatever new thing you can and be willing to fail miserably at it in the beginning. Take up gardening, clean out your closets, garage, basement, etc. Do something new and different and watch how it adds a spark to your days and weeks.

This list could go on and on.  The bottom line is to know that you are not stuck and you are not alone. The more you can invest in yourself, control what is within your control, make a little progress most days (some days you will not and that is ok!), and give yourself permission and the freedom to just be, the better you and all of us will be as we approach and deal with whatever may come our way.

If you wish to continue this discussion or just connect with me, feel free to contact me at:

Instagram
Website

Or if you are looking to start fresh and carve your own path, pick up a copy of my book Everyday Warrior on Amazon.

Frank Gigante

I grew up in a little town in the Western side of Romania, in a small family of intellectuals. My father was a lawyer and was my first hero, whom I’ve lost unfortunately way too early. After the fall of Romanian communism, in 1989 my family reconnected with the person who completely changed my life, by the name of Ervin Litkey, a well-respected musician and composer, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary, in 1948. He was a distant relative to my family. I was very young at that time, but the desire to visit and personally thank my benefactor sprouted in my heart. My mom wanted me to be a teacher, and for that reason, I attended the Pedagogical School of Arad and became one when I was only 19. But my dreams were bigger than that and they entailed crossing the ocean. 

My desire to visit the United States materialized in 2005 when I came through a Work & Travel program designed for Romanian students. On July 13th, 2005, I landed at the JFK Airport, with $300 in my pocket, and the dream to conquer America. I arrived too late unfortunately to express gratitude to my benefactor. The following weeks were difficult, and after spending nights in places like YMCA, I found a reasonable room to rent and a job. The surrogate mother country offered me a warm welcome and prospects that I could’ve only dreamt of in my native country, where being a teacher meant living on the edge of poverty. But I wanted more, and I knew it was possible because I was living in the greatest country on Earth. I started to look for ways to continue the education I had started in Romania –a Banking and Finance program at Aurel Vlaicu University. In the fall of 2008, I took Economics classes at Hunter College, as a transfer student from Romania, after having passed, with brio, the TOEFL exam. Throughout my Hunter College education, I also worked a full-time job. While I was doing that, I tried to take advantage of every opportunity to enhance my understanding of how the markets function and fluctuate. After three years working at an exclusive, high-end restaurant in the famed UES facilitated my first interactions with some of the top executives of the financial world. 

After living in NYC for six years, I decided to move to Florida. Being an immigrant, in the process of obtaining the residency, was not in my favor in the newly adopted state. Finding jobs was practically impossible. The very next day, after obtaining my legal residency I.D, I received a phone interview from Bank of America, and in June 2012, I’ve started a career with one of the largest banks in the U.S. Five years later, after I was able to advance four positions within the bank, I decided it was time to pursue higher education. That was when I enrolled as a new MBA student at Nova Southeastern University, initially with a concentration in Business Intelligence/Business Analytics. I graduated with honors in December 2019 and started a career as a Data Analyst with a major telecommunications company. 

Bodybuilding has been a great part of my life since 2014 when I’ve competed in my first bodybuilding competition. It was a great experience that motivated me to strive to get better and to continue to grow as an athlete. My goal is to obtain the IFBB PRO Card this year, under the marvelous guidance of Paul Revelia of Team Prophysique. 

Age:
42

City:
Pompano Beach, Florida.

Relationship status:
Single.

Fitness category:
Bikini.

Fitness history:
I have started to compete in the bodybuilding/bikini division in 2014 and fell in love with the sport. I placed top 10 at a National Show in Pittsburgh in 2019 and won several first, second, third places at the many local shows I have participated in.

Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, others?
I love HIIT and I incorporate it in my weekly training for at least one day. Yoga is also part of my journey, spiritual and physical. I practice vinyasa yoga a few times a week. Of course, bodybuilding is my passion and a path to my dream.

Share your unique training/coaching methods:
For over two years, I’m training with Paul Revelia of Team ProPhysique. He adopts a flexible dieting approach that is working well for me and my body. I train 5-6 days a week. The splits are 2 upper body and 3 lower body.

Is weight loss more of a fitness issue or a health issue in your opinion and why?
Weight loss is often a taboo topic for many. It’s never been a goal for me. It shouldn’t be a health issue if done consistently, and at a slow natural pace. I strongly believe in achieving results naturally. 

Training Plan:
Workout 1: Back – Workout 2: Legs – Workout 3: Shoulders – Workout 4: Arms – Workout 5: Weak Point.

Back + Shoulder:

Low Cable Row 3-5 X 6-10. Single Arm Cable Pulldown 3-5 X 6-10. Pull-Over Machine 3-5 X 6-10. Underhand Wide Cable Row 3-5 X 6-10. Seated Wide Row (to chest) 3-5 X 6-10. Machine Shoulder Press 3-5 X 6-10. Cable Side Lateral 3-5 X 6-10.

Legs:

Leg Press 3-5 X 6-10. Good Morning 3-5 X 6-10. BB Hip Thrust 3-5 X 6-10. Goblet Squat 3-5 X 6-10. Single-Leg Curl 3-5 X 6-10. Single-Leg Extension 3-5 X 6-10.

Shoulders:

Standing DB Shoulder Press 3-5 X 6-10. Machine Shoulder Press 3-5 X 6-10. DB Side Lateral Raise 3-5 X 6-10. DB Front Raise 3-5 X 6-10. Machine Side Lateral 3-5 X 6-10. Reverse Pec Dec Fly’s (rear delt) 3-5 X 6-10.

Arms+Calves:

Cable Overhead Extension 3-5 X 6-10. Preacher Curl 3-5 X 6-10. Skull Crusher 3-5 X 6-10.

Nutritional Plan:
I’m following a macros plan – Current Training Day Macro’s.

P 120 / F 40 / C 110.

2 consecutive Off Days Macro’s.

P 120 / F 40 / C 145.

Supplement Plan:
I’m currently taking multivitamins and collagen only.

What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
I know how it is to start from nothing and I can hold my head high with dignity for not compromising any of my core values in order to achieve anything in life so far.

What would it mean to you to become a “Status Symbol”?
It would mean that I will continue to strive to inspire women of all ages to become the best version of themselves.

What would it mean to you to grace the cover of Status?
Beyond a personal and professional accomplishment.

Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover.  As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you about this opportunity?
I am very humbled and honored to even be considered.

5 things people don’t know about you?

  • I was born in communist Romania.
  • I speak fluently five languages.
  • I am vegan.
  • I rescued 3 dogs and 2 cats.
  • I am not afraid to start from the bottom over and over again.

Who inspires you? And why?
There are many female bodybuilders and not only that inspire me and motive me to be better every day, among them: Angelica Teixeira, Etila Santiago, Novak Djokovic to mention just a few.

If you could inspire one person, who would that be?
Fitness is good health, not a spectator sport. I want to be a motivational beacon for women of all ages, all body types. I want to help all the women find their authentic selves as they envision how they want their bodies and spirit to be.

Favorite Quotes:
“It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing. 8 weeks for your friends and family. 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Never give up”.

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” Steve Jobs

By Status Fitness Magazine
April 28, 2021

Toronto, Ontario– Status Fitness Magazine has signed master trainer Nancy Di Nino to its professional fitness and editorial lineup. Nancy is an expert trainer in women 35+, trusted by many of the IFBB’s top-ranked female and male athletes. Nancy Di Nino will share her vast knowledge and expertise in all areas of physique change and contest prep for Status Fitness Magazine.

Nancy Dinino shares her thoughts on joining the Status Fitness Magazine Team
I have always felt that STATUS was a one-stop-shop for all your health and fitness needs. Health and Fitness go beyond the physical aspect and STATUS is a platform providing the most cutting-edge information related to overall health, fitness, and wellness…from a gym novice to a competitor. Its global presence always has a pulse on what is happening in the industry.

Humbled first and foremost! I am excited to share my cumulative experience and knowledge I have gained over the past 20 years plus. The time has ripened my knowledge with diverse experiences and perspectives, from being on stage as a competitor to the front lines of a media personality to a women’s expert health coach. I consider myself a ‘chameleon’ in the sense that I grow and transition with each stage of life and with those transitions I am able to focus on sharing, helping, and inspiring others along with being able to affect change in some shape or form of their life.

Status Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang shares his thoughts on Nancy Di Nino
We are absolutely ecstatic to have Nancy join the Status team once again. She was originally writing for Status 12 years ago and provided incredible insights to all fitness enthusiasts, especially females.

With all her experience and maturation, Nancy is the ideal reference and expert for women who are 35+ and want to improve their health (fitness, weight loss, emotional, hormonal, etc). We look forward to seeing all the ladies Nancy will be helping. Welcome back to the team Nancy!

Status is excited to provide Nancy with the Status media platform in the form of his own expert column to reach millions of people and support them in reaching their fitness goals.

About Nancy Di Nino
For almost three decades, Nancy has coached thousands of people to achieve optimal health and fitness from gym novices to fitness professionals. Nancy’s passion for fitness has led her to an incredible, rewarding and diverse career in the international fitness, media, and modeling industry landing various magazine covers and features in publications like Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Status Fitness Magazine, Optimize, and Iron Man.

Thanks to having a natural camera personality, she has also hosted prestigious events such as Bodybuilding.com, Olympia, Toronto Pro Supershow, and Arnold Sports Festival, interviewing high-caliber sports celebrities, UFC fighters, and legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

As a former co-host for Living Beautiful Radio, she is dedicated to sharing stories and advice and passionate about spreading a positive, uplifting message that helps people live beautifully inside and out. She has inspired and transformed thousands of women to be fit, confident and the best version of themselves no matter their age

Find out more about Nancy DiNino: Website | Instagram | Facebook 

About Status Fitness Magazine
Status Fitness Magazine has been a reader favorite since it hit newsstands in 2006. Known for industry-changing covers, Status has featured the likes of George St. Pierre, Brock Lesner, Vernon Davis, Cass Martin, Ashley Kaltwasser among others. Geared to everyone from the general health and weight loss person to the extremely competitive physique or performance athlete, Status delivers researched, proven, and cutting-edge knowledge to everyone interested in fitness as a lifestyle.

Contact
To learn more about this announcement, please contact:
Julie McGraa, Media Relations
CANADA: 3920 Francis Road Richmond BC. #120
USA: 1922 Raymond Ave, Los Angeles, California 90007
Office: (888) 304-3201
julie@statusfitness.com

I have tried every possible diet found on the internet, anything from keto to low fat, to paleo, to juice cleanses. Some of these diets are beneficial and can be life-changing to someone with health issues or if someone already tends to eat along with those guidelines. I won’t sit here and tell you I didn’t lose weight because I did. However, one thing I can tell you that all these fad diets had in common is that they all put me in a caloric deficit. I bet you’re reading this with the urge to roll your eyes, but I can guarantee you that your chosen ‘diet” is making you eat less than your usual habits. The secret to having an unrestricted diet where you can still feel the benefit of tracking your food and practicing awareness is to count your macronutrients. I won’t go too far into detail here however I would recommend that you shift gears from a dieting perspective to a tracking perspective (you get to eat pizza). With all that being said, there are still choices you will be facing every day, and here I will list my top 5 most chosen foods that you can catch me eating any day of the week. Along with my daily supplements, these foods provide me with energy, nutrients, gut health, and so much more.

Chicken
Oh yes, the infamous chicken breast you see on the plate of any bodybuilder. Different parts of the chicken contain different amounts of protein and fat per gram. With a whopping 30grams of protein per 100grams of chicken, you get a very lean protein option that you can cook in countless ways. With vegetarian protein options, you have to consider the carbohydrate increase in exchange for higher protein content. One great protein option is tofu! About 8-9grams of protein per 100grams with only 2grams of carbs!

Quinoa
The whole grail of superfood complex carbs! Quinoa takes the body longer to break down, resulting in a slower spike in blood sugar (check out the glycemic index). It is packed with 8grams of protein per cup, micronutrients, 40grams of carbs, and keeps you full for longer.

Sweet potato
This incredible vegetable is not only packed with 20grams of carbs per 100g of sweet potato, but it has got a significant source of vitamins, electrolytes, and fiber. This is a great lower carb option for those who like to save their carbs for treats or are taking a low carb approach.

Cauliflower
You might be surprised to see this one on here. I mention cauliflower because it is SO versatile. This section will include a broader perspective on root vegetables. Cauliflower in particular is a great food for a few reasons. First, it is low in carbs and fats, and high inadequate in fiber with a sprinkle of protein! Another big reason this is here is because of what I call volume foods. Volume foods are often vegetables that take up space and have micronutrients but aren’t rich in macronutrients. These foods help a small meal look and feel bigger, helping you get satiated from a relatively small meal! One thing I love about cauliflower is that you can turn it into pizza. You read that correctly! Cauliflower can be turned into a dough with a few simple ingredients! You can mash it, turn it into rice, roast it, or season it up with some spices and almond flour to bake them into wings!

Kimchi
Another one that most people will tilt their heads when reading. Kimchi is a fermented mix of vegetables and spices that is absolutely loaded in probiotics, healthy bacteria, and other nutrients. Kimchi provides proper nutrients to support the health of our microbiome, or to put it simply, our gut. Our gut is a sacred place where foods get absorbed, nutrients get facilitated, and hormones get produced/stored (guess what: 90% of our serotonin gets produced in our digestive tract. Healthy gut= happiness). Now, these benefits are not limited to kimchi, many fermented products like sauerkraut and kombucha will have similar benefits depending on the ingredients!

Aziza Abdul Qader

Growing up, I have always been involved in martial arts. I found a love for Karate at a young age, and that paved my way to pursuing various arts such as Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Jiu-Jitsu. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I suffered an injury that discouraged me from performing any form of physical activity, including gym class in high school. In a span of 8 months, I gained weight, lost conditioning, and started to develop body dysmorphia. Despite all those factors, the negative shift in energy and motivation that I experienced was the most significant indicator that I needed to make a change.

I DECIDED I COULD EITHER LET THIS INJURY TAKE OVER, OR I COULD GET A GRIP AND REGAIN MY STRENGTH AND POSITIVE SELF-PERCEPTION. I GOT TO WORK, AND THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER STEPPED INTO A GYM BY MYSELF

By the age of 17, I had dropped 40 pounds and finally felt like I had control over my fitness. There was, however, one thing that I still couldn’t grasp, and it was the fact that my energy didn’t get back to where it was prior to my injury. I started to research what that could be the cause of and quickly learned that although I was nailing the macronutrients, I was failing to fulfill my micronutrients. Around this point in my journey, I felt a spark lit within me, and the more I researched micronutrients the more intrigued I was by how unique and different everyone can respond to nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It became clear to me that my diet was low in iron which contributed to my lack of energy. Soon enough, I became a regular at my gym, tracking my macros, and using high-quality supplements to add to my diet and support my micronutrients.

Today, as a fitness and health coach, I want to educate people on macronutrients because it taught me how amazing food can taste, and how flexible their diets can be while still achieving weight loss goals. I want to teach people about micronutrients because I learned how sensitive our systems can be and how energized, motivated, and good people can feel by only adjusting their vitamins and minerals.

Finally, I want to teach people how to move their bodies, feel stronger, shape their bodies into their dream physiques, and ultimately live a healthy lifestyle! All these lessons were taught through my personal journey, and they completely changed my life. The beauty of health and fitness is that every single person can pursue it. I am just like everybody else, and some days can be more challenging than others. You do not have to be perfect to achieve your goals, you just have to persevere and keep your eyes on the prize! I am stronger, leaner, and more motivated than I ever was and it is all because I became more conscious of my habits, and saw the benefits that I gained from investing in my health and fitness!

Any great trainer will let you know that nailing the fundamentals to any movement is the key to success with form, technique, and more efficient progress. You can take a push-up to a clap push-up without injuries if your regular push-up form is impeccable. You cannot leave the ground to clap in the air if the basic components of the regular push-up are not met. That goes for any exercise and its progressive variations. There is a lot of information out there for the best exercises to perform for weight loss, muscle gain, toning, core strength, flexibility, agility, and the list goes on. Here are my top 5 exercises that I perform at home and with my beginner clients. I chose these exercises because each of them activates multiple muscle groups, focuses on different aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and can be relatively progressive and regressive.

Squats

The squat is a fantastic movement to strengthen the lower body. you must also use the trunk muscles for stability during the descend and ascend. Lastly, you must use your erector spinae which are muscles coating the spinal column to keep the spine from flexing or extending. We do this movement every single day starting from when we stand up from the side of our bed. There are many different variations to the squat such as a split squat (lunge), sumo squat, pistol/single-legged squat, and so on. The key form pointers I use for my clients are:

  • Push the hips back and down
  • Keep chest open back straight
  • Knees in line with the toes, pointing in the direction of the pinky toes
  • Shoulders back away from your ears
  • Thigh parallel to the ground

Plank

The plank is an incredible exercise that is able to activate almost every part of the body. You require your core to maintain a lift off the ground, your quads extend the knee, your chest, and back, and your glutes maintain the posterior pelvic tilt. On top of the muscular benefits, the plank helps improve muscular endurance so you’re able to hold an isometric contraction longer. This is a great exercise to perform in order to improve posture because often times our posture is poor due to tight chest muscles, weak upper back muscles, and a weak core. The key form of pointers are:
  • Shoulders back and away from your ears
  • Elbows right below the shoulder joint
  • Tuck the tailbone in or squeeze the butt cheeks together
  • Pull the belly button to the spine
  • Think of keeping everything in one straight line from the top of the head to the heels
  • Focus on deep belly breaths (shallow breathing reduces the amount of oxygen going towards the muscles which makes them fatigue sooner)

Glute Bridge

I stress the strength of the core to all my clients because it is the key component to posture, healthy lower back, stronger pelvic floor, and a supportive mechanism to any loaded exercise (Yes, you do use your core even during a standing bicep curl). The glutes extend the hips and tilt the pelvis backward. Strengthening and growing the glutes aren’t just for looks! The gluteus maximus, the largest of the 3 gluteus muscles, is the largest muscle in the body and is the key contributor to our ability to stand up against gravity. Sprinting and moving uphill are among the many actions we perform with the help of the glutes. The form of key pointers are:

  • Feet hip-width apart and knees pointing in direction of the pinky-toes
  • When extending the hips, push through the heels
  • During extension, actively squeeze the glutes together to produce a tailbone tuck
  • At the top of the movement, you should be straight from the base of your neck to your knees
  • If there is any intense contraction or pain in the lower back, reduce the extension and focus on the form

This movement incorporates a dynamic feature to the plank. We want to strengthen the muscles involved in a push-up for the longevity of those muscles especially as we age so that we are able to catch a fall and push ourselves off the floor. There are many variations to the push-up such as knee push-ups, power pushups, one-arm pushups, wide grip, narrow grip, and many others. I always start my clients with a wide grip push-up so they are familiar with the motion and can feel their chest and triceps equally. The key form of pointers are:

  • Palms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Shoulders back and away from your ears, spine straight and locked in with the hips
  • Leading with your chest, lower the body toward the ground as a plank
  • Point the elbows our and slightly behind you as you descend

Burpee

Many of you will see this word and immediately experience an increased heart rate! Hate to break it to you, but the burpee is an incredibly beneficial movement that incorporates strength, power, muscular and cardiovascular endurance, coordination, speed, and flexibility. With the vast amount of variations, I always tell my clients to stay within their range of motion, take their time, and think of the burpee as a multi-step process. First, lowering the hands to the ground requires a squat, jumping back into a high plank requires core and coordination, lowering the body into a pushup requires a straight back and upper body strength, jumping the feet back in towards the arms require coordination, core, power and strength, and jumping up towards the ceiling requires coordination, and full-body power. Key pointers:

  • Squat pointers on the descend
  • Plank pointers on the backward jump
  • Pushup pointers on the plank descend
  • When jumping in from the plank, try to land the heels below the knees and pop your hands off the ground at the same time
  • When jumping up treat it like coming up from a squat into a tall jump.

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