Category Archives: Workouts

Bringing Strong Back

6 exercises for a strong back

Your mother was right (as usual) when she would tell you to stand up tall and don’t slouch. A woman with her shoulders down and her back straight shows confidence, strength and beauty. Strong back muscles are essential for good posture. The upper back muscles are used in pulling your shoulders down and back and helping you stand tall instead of hunched over. Good posture is also the easiest and fastest way to lose 10 pounds! Then there’s the added benefit of looking great while wearing halter tops and backless dresses. A strong back can be very sexy!

Not only is a strong back eye appealing, it is also an injury preventer. Low back pain is the number one diagnosis that physical therapists see every day. Sitting too much during the day combined with poor posture is an injury waiting to happen. Having a strong back will also make your day to day life easier and less strenuous. Carrying groceries, gardening and lifting your children will seem easier.

It’s time we are bringing strong BACK!

Last fall when, I injured my L5 and SI Joint, it was a wake up call about just how important a strong back is.

Incorporate these five back exercises into two to three days of your week. Along with additional exercises that target the rest of your body plus cardio and a healthy diet and you will have a strong, beautiful back in no time at all.

For this workout you will need:

  • A resistance band
  • A yoga mat or towel
  • Stability ball

Bringing Strong Back Workout  happyfitmama.com

Bent Over Row

  1. Hold onto either end of a resistance band, and step onto the middle of it with both feet, so your ankles are directly underneath your hips. Lean forward, bending at the hips with a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Keep your back parallel to the floor, and let your arms hang down. From here, pull both elbows up so they’re in line with your torso. Be sure to keep your elbows in and pointed upwards. Then slowly lower your hands back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  3. Complete three sets of 12 reps.

*For an added challenge, add a dumbbell in each hand.

Standing Reverse Fly

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping a slight bend in the knees. With straight arms, hold the resistance band in front of you with your hands slightly lower than your shoulders.
  2. Pull your abs in tight as you open your arms out to the sides, focusing on the shoulder blades squeezing together. Slowly return your arms back to starting position.
  3. Do three sets of 12 to 15 rep

Back Extension on Stability Ball

  1. Place your torso on the ball and roll forward until you have both hands on the floor. Your legs should be straight behind you, toes on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your torso down with your hands behind your head — basically you are wrapping your upper body around the ball.
  3. Lift your torso up until you form a straight line with your hips and legs.
    Lower back down to complete one rep.
  4. Do three sets of 12 reps.

Shrug

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides, stand on the resistance band and hold an end in each hand.
  2. Start with your shoulders relaxed, and as you exhale, shrug them up toward your ears. Hold the position for a few seconds before relaxing your shoulders as you inhale.
  3. Do three sets of 12 reps.

Superman

  1. Lay belly down on the mat. Extend your arms above your head. Legs are straight.
  2. Lift your upper back and legs and hold for five seconds, squeezing your glutes. Lower back down.
  3. Do three sets of 12 reps.

This workout can easily be done at home or a gym.

3 Treadmill Workouts for Speed and Strength

Browsicles | happyfitmama.com

I like to think of myself as a runner who will run in any conditions.

I mean, I grew up in the frozen tundra of Upper Michigan. And now I’m a New Englander. We aren’t afraid of cold weather!

Browsicles, lashicles – no big deal!

The picture above is from my friend Sarah and I after our 13 mile run on Saturday in 9 degrees. I had marvelous company but it was far from a marvelous run. I don’t think it was the coldest temperature I’ve ever run in but it was definitely the coldest I’ve ever been on a run. The un-thawing afterwards was very painful.

I profess that I really dislike the treadmill and will not run on it unless I absolutely have to.

Well, last week, I willingly went to my treadmill. More than once.

It was a bone chilling, “I can’t feel my toes”, snot is frozen to my face, 3 degrees, when I woke up for most of my zero dark thirty runs.

I’m all, I LOVE MY TREADMILL, on those days.

Simple Treadmill Speed Workout  happyfitmama.com

The treadmill can be quite boring. There’s no doubt about that. I usually have to play with the speed and incline constantly to keep myself engaged in the run. Otherwise I’m ready to hop off and call it quits after 10 minutes. Music helps a ton. As does catching up on TV shows that you would never otherwise watch.

Having your own treadmill or access to one does have it’s benefits. Especially in the winter when the weather is usually far from ideal for completing quality workouts when you need to run hard.

The one good thing about the treadmill is that it keeps you on pace during a tempo or speed workout. There is a tendency to back off when you start feeling tired. However, the treadmill won’t let you do that unless you push a button.
Treadmill Progression Workout   happyfitmama.com
A couple of things to keep in mind while running on the treadmill:
  • Since the belt is constantly running, it will be dragging your legs under and behind you during your stride cycle. By doing this, your hamstring muscles (which would typically be doing this work when outside) will be working less and you will be relying more heavily on your quads.
  • The treadmill tells the brain that you’re running on an unstable surface, which activates your stabilizing muscles and can put more strain on muscles like the piriformis, hip flexors and lower back.
  • The treadmill encourages more heel striking and leg extension, which can put more strain on the knees, hamstrings and calves.

Treadmill Pryramid Hill Workout   happyfitmama.com

All of the workouts in this post are ones that I have done. I can attest that they will kick your butt just like any outdoor workout. You definitely are not cheating by using the treadmill.

When asked, I will now say that I love my treadmill. It’s the greatest thing ever.

I just don’t want to use it.

What’s the lowest temperature you have run in?

10 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Who needs a stuffy gym when you can get a great workout anywhere?

Bodyweight exercises are a simple, effective way to improve balance, flexibility and strength without machinery or extra equipment. I’m a huge fan especially since I haven’t had a gym membership in over 4 years. I’m lucky enough to have access to weight equipment at work but I supplement with bodyweight exercises just because they are fun and quick. Now that’s always marvelous.

Exercise that you can pop out anywhere are perfect when you are short on time. Got 10 minutes before dinner is ready? Do a little circuit of planks, squats and dips. The “I don’t have time!” excuse is inexcusable!

Here’s 10 exercises that you can do anywhere, any time.

10 Bodyweight Exercises to Do Anywhere happyfitmama.com

1. Inchworm: Stand up tall with the legs straight, fingertips touch the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Continue for 8-10 reps.

2. Mountain Climber: Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.

3. Plank-to-Push-Up: Starting in a plank position, place down one hand at a time to lift up into a push-up position, with the back straight and the core engaged. Then move one arm at a time back into the plank position (forearms on the ground). Repeat, alternating the arm that makes the first move.

4. Burpees: Start out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, jump the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the show.

5. Single Leg Deadlift: Start in a standing position with the feet together. Lift the right leg slightly, and lower the arms and torso while raising the right leg behind the body. Keep the left knee slightly bent and reach the arms as close to the floor as possible. Raise the torso while lowering the right leg. Switch legs.

6. Wall Sit: Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and keep the back straight. Go for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to feel the quake and shake).

7. Dolphin Push-Up: Start out in dolphin pose (down-dog with elbows on the floor). Lean forward, moving until the head is over the hands. Push up through the arms and return to the starting position.

8. Triceps Dip: Sit on the edge of a step or bench. Grab the edge of the elevated surface and straighten the arms. Bend them to a 90-degree angle, and straighten again while the heels push towards the floor. To make it a little harder, lift one leg off the ground.

9. Bridge: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down, then lift back up. Try to do 10 reps per leg, then bring the knee in place and spine back on the floor.

10. Side Plank: Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds.

If you are looking for more bodyweight workouts, I’ve got you covered:

Functional Fitness Workout  happyfitmama.comFunctional Fitness

Core Strong - happyfitmama.comCore Strength for Runners

No Equipment Required Body Blast - happyfitmama.comTotal Body Blast

Sweet Summer Sweat Workout - happyfitmama.comSweet Summer Sweat

20 minute AMRAP - happyfitmama.com20″ AMRAP

The Countdown Workout - happyfitmama.comThe Countdown

What are your favorite bodyweight exercises?