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Abduct a new workout: Abductors and Adductors

26 Feb

Dearest Readers,

You may be wondering what the heck are abductors and adductors….they are merely politically correct terms for your inner and outer thighs. It’s time to work ’em. All of these exercises come directly from Pilates, which should remind you that pilates is the bees knees. (or the cat’s pajamas…take your pick)

They all involve the same basic body position: laying on your side with your hips aligned with your shoulders and your hips should be stacked perfectly (so as not to lean forward or back). For some exercises your legs will be stacked and for others your top leg will be out just a smigen from your bottom leg (keep hips stacked!). You can either lie completely on your side with your head resting on your arm or you can prop yourself on your elbow (that’s what I did). For these exercises do them all on one side then switch to the other side.

Point Up, Flex Down: This is pretty self explanatory, but you should lay with your feet stacked then slowly point your top foot to the ceiling and flex it down. Do this 10-15 times. Remember to keep it slow and controlled. When you bring your foot down, don’t let it touch your bottom leg keep it just slightly elevated.

half way through the lift up (My forms not perfect...i'm letting my side sag a bit...but i have 3 seconds to take the pic)

Leg circles: For this exercise have your front leg out slightly in front of you (picture like if you were lying on the side of a yoga mat and extend your leg so that it is at the opposite corner…..like a 45 degree angle in front of you). Then lift up your leg about a foot-ish and make small circles with your foot. Do 10 of those, then do 10 in the opposite direction. Tricky tricky.

circle-ing it up

Forward and Backward Pulses: Stack those feet again and lift your leg so it is a foot up, then slowly swing it forward to about where you had it in the last exercise (45 degrees in front of you) and pulse twice (meaning swish it forward twice) then slowly swing your leg all the way behind you (45 degrees behind you) and pulse twice. Never let your foot down, just keep controlling the motion back and forth. Do this ten times and don’t forget: don’t let those hips move!

pulse forward

pulse backward

Bicycles: These are ril ril hard to explain. So I am just going to put up pictures…basically your are bicycling forward with your top leg. When you figure out how to do it, try doing it backward.

start by tucking your top leg in (like your biking on your side)

then extend forward

then swing your leg back

then bring your feet to your butt (then keep "bicyling" aka swing your leg forward bent like this...extend it...swing back...bend...etc)

do all of these and don’t forget to do the other side!!!! Let me know if you need any clarifications on these workouts. Only 4 or so more posts, so tell me what you want to see more of (I love me some comments).

Abduct-ily,

The Toned Toothpick Teacher (T3)

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Crunch-atize Me: Work the Lower and Upper Abs

22 Feb

Dearest Readers,

So I’ve done obliques and planks and daily abs, but I have yet to give you my fave ab workouts (I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this day….probably not sleeping at night…understandable). What’s difficult about abs is working both the lower and upper abs, because we want to have the killer six-pack and to lose the muffin-top. Having a good core, or powerhouse, is critical to overall strength. It helps bad posture (as your sitting and reading this try to sit straight up….you are working your abs right now).

If you are really serious about abs, TAKE PILATES. Male or female, pilates is an ab workout that will leave you unable to move your abs for days…aka it’s great. Classes are offered at Ping or you could take the 2 credit hour class offered at the dance school (I took it…amazing). But if you can’t make it to Pilates…here are my top straight ab workouts:

Crunch Variations: Everyone knows the classic crunch: laying down, legs bent hip length apart crunching up with a tennis ball sized space between your chin and your chest. (exhale as you come up and inhale as you go down) try to take almost all of your shoulder blade off the ground. Keep your hands behind your head, but not pulling your head. We’ve all heard that since elementary school gym, but the variation possibilities are what really make ab workouts better!

Crunch with arms straight out over your head: This adds a longer lever to your crunch, so that way it is more challenging and forces your abs to work harder. To do this get in conventional crunch position, but have your arms above your head with your hands on top of each other, when you crunch up bring your hands up to meet your knees.

i'm so pleased to be doing a straight arm crunch!

Crunch with legs up straight: This time instead of keeping your arm straight, keep your legs straight. It works the lower abs.

serious face: straight leg crunch

Reverse Crunches: It’s hardest to work the lower abs, but this is one of the only exercises that specifically targets the lower abs. Lay down on your back with your legs straight up to the ceiling, ankles crossed. Instead of crunching your top half up, crunch your legs up (aka act like your legs are trying to touch the ceiling). So “hit the ceiling” and come immediately back down. This exercise is really quick, but the key is to really focus on your abs: are your abs doing the crunching? To help you keep your hands down at your sides and push off of them to get more leverage. Keep your head and shoulders down at all times. Do 25 of these (and cry).

this is one of the most unattractive photos....but this is how far you lift with a reverse crunch...don't try to go high!

Onion Peel: If you were at a gym, you would use an exercise ball for this, but at home, use your pillow … between your feet (totally hygienic, I’m sure). Lay on your back and put the pillow between your legs straight up in the air. Crunch your upper body up and grab the pillow (now it’s in your hands), simultaneously LOWER BOTHER YOUR LEGS AND YOUR ARMS OUT STRAIGHT. Then crunch BOTH parts back in and switch so that your legs are holding your pillow. Try to keep your lower back on the ground. Do 12 full reps…meaning it has to touch both your hands and your feet to be a full rep. These are the hardest (and best) ab exercise I’ve found. I don’t know why it’s called an onion peel….maybe because it makes you cry???

start (look how happy i look)

the switch

end (note: my arms, legs, and top of my shoulders NEVER TOUCH THE GROUND)

Leg Lowers: These are pretty well-known but they really work it if you switch up the counting. Lay on your back with legs straight up (ankles uncrossed but feet together), with your arms at your sides. Lower your legs down as far as you can WITHOUT YOUR LOWER BACK LEAVING THE GROUND. Many make the mistake of lower their legs too far (to look cool or something), but as soon as your lower back comes off of the ground, you lose the exercise. Lower down for 10 seconds and lift in 1 second. Then lower for 9, lift in 1. Lower for 8, lift in 1. See where I am going here? It kills. When you get to lower for 1, lower for 10 one more time. Your abs should shake. That means you’re doing it right.

lowering my legs...i would only lower a little more than this normally

I hope these exercises have helped you work your lower and upper abs. It is getting to the end of my time as a blogger, and I am starting to run low on parts of the body to work. What would you, my lovely and loyal readers, like to see more of? More arms? Some cardio? More legs? Let me know, because I’m here to serve you!

Abdominally (again),

The Toned Toothpick Teacher (the T3)

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: the halftime workout

6 Feb

Dearest Readers,

As a native Pittsburgh girl today is a national holiday (I have my Polamalu jersey on and my terrible towel in my back pocket). In my home town last night, it’s like the little Super Bowl santa came, and bedecked the ‘burgh in black and gold (with hopes that the seventh superbowl ring soon would be there). So you are thinking that today is a day to slack off from being healthy: tortilla chips and cheese dip and salsa, oh my! (Not to mention the copious amounts of sugar-coated soda you will be drinking). There are small workouts to be done during the game: take a lap when we get a touchdown (don’t miss the field goal), fist pump when we get a first down (obviously a kickin arm workout), etc….but these seemed a little lame. So I did a little research, and found a whole slew of free workout videos made to be done during half time!! Hahahah, I was so amused by all of these workouts that I decided instead of posting my workouts today I would share with you the workouts of others (including some regular free workout videos that aren’t related to the big day). So whether you’re watching the super bowl or not (travesty!) there is a workout for you!

Super Bowl Workout: The below video was the best workout I found that is super bowl related. The guy is really spastic-y but his moves are good and require no equipment. (This is actually a video from 2 superbowls ago…but you get the idea):

Pilates: Pilates is the best ab workout I’ve ever done. This woman Bonnie is a champion. She has tons a free workout videos on youtube. I just included her most popular here.

Zumba: “Ditch the workout. Join the party.” That is Zumba’s actual catch phrase. This fast paced cardio workout is based around dancing. It’s great, and if you are uncoordinated like me, it will provide a lot of amusement when you attend zumba class with your friends. This basic basic basic video breaks down three moves to give you a taste of zumba.

Basic Indoor Workouts: There is so much out there workout wise if you only search for it on youtube. This was the best I found by typing in “workout at home.” Free Free Free!!

Overall, these workouts demonstrate how much is out there from the helpful people who post on the internet. Post in the comments section your favorite free workouts (look for podcasts too!). With these fab workouts, Super Bowl sunday will be a win for the Steelers and for your body!

Troy-ily Yours,

The Toned Toothpick Teacher