It’s time to switch it up

Fitness, Fitness - Workouts February 9, 2012

This post is the sixth in BlogHer’s Inspiration to Fitness series.  To start from week one, click here.  Our first 4 workouts can be found hereherehere, and here.

You’ve been working out for weeks, maybe months.  Your body is getting stronger, and you are making progress.  Then, all of a sudden you hit a plateau.  Even though you might be working out every day, your body is no longer changing.  What happened?

Your body has become too good at the exercises that you have perfected.  Your heart, lungs and muscles aren’t being challenged the way they were in the beginning.  Your body needs a wake up call!

To keep making progress, you need to challenge your body in different ways.  That’s one of the reasons that we have added intervals to your cardio workouts.  Regularly switching things up will not only keep your workouts more interesting, but will also give you better results.  Periodized training will produce greater gains in strength and lean muscle.  It will also increase body fat reduction.  Sounds good to me!

So how do we switch things up?  Here are a few ways:

  • Change the number of repetitions per exercise, or the number of sets that you complete.
  • Change the amount of resistance.
  • Change the type of resistance (i.e. use resistance bands instead of hand weights).
  • Change the amount of rest time between exercises or sets.
  • Change the speed that you complete the exercise (i.e. slower reps with lower weights)
  • Challenge with balance (i.e. stand on one leg or on a rolled up towel)


Now for your homework!

Your 3 days of cardio will include the interval training that we introduced last week with more time in the high intensity interval:

-5 minute warmup RPE of 3

-2 minutes RPE 5

-60 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-60 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-60 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-60 seconds RPE 7-8

-5 minutes cooldown RPE 3

Your strength workout includes an introduction to plyometric training with jump squats.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the jumping, you can substitute regular squats.  Remember, you are to do 15 reps of each warmup exercise and 8-12 reps of each strength exercise.  Complete 2-3 sets of the strength circuit with no rest between exercises and 2 minutes rest between circuits.

Dynamic Warmup

dynamic warmup arm circles

Make huge circles with your arms as fast as you can.  Do 15 forward, then 15 backwards.

dynamic warmup frankenstein walk

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.  Step forward with your right foot and kick your left foot as high as possible while reaching foward with your right hand to meet your left foot.  Repeat with opposite leg and hand.  Continue alternating legs for 15 repetitions.

pogo hops

Jump a few inches off the ground and land on the balls of your feet.  Continue for 15 repetitions.
dynamic arm swing

Standing with feet together, bring arms in front of your body and cross one over the other.  Swing them open then quickly back in front of your body.  Make big moves and complete 15 repetitions.

Core Exercises


From a push up position, rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands.  Form a straight line with your body from your shoulders to your ankles.  Hold yourself in this position by keeping your core tight and bellybutton drawn in.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Work up to holding the plank for 60 seconds or more.  If your lower back starts hurting, check your form.

single leg balance

Stand on your right foot with your left food an inch or so off the ground.  With hands on hips and bellybutton tight, extend your leg to the rear, back to the middle, to the left, back to the middle and to the front.  Return to starting position and repeat.  Do 15 repetitions and then switch to the opposite leg.  Focus on challenging yourself to keep your balance throughout the exercise.

reverse crunches

***Please refer to the previous post about checking for diastasis before doing these or any other abdominal exercise***

Lie on your back with knees bent, and extend arms down your sides with fingers pointing toward your toes.  Gently exhale and stabilize your core muscles.  Cross your legs at the ankles and slowly bring your legs back and up “crunching” your abdominal muscles.  Inhale and slowly lower legs to starting position.  Repeat.

squat jumps

 From a standing position with feet hip-width apart.  Engage core muscles and lower into a squat.  Touch the outside of your shoes with your fingers and jump up, driving off the balls of your feet, reaching into the air with your arms.  Land softly on the balls of your feet and repeat without pausing. (Alternate exercise: squats)

pushup with rotation

Perform a push up.  At the top of the push up, rotate your body into a side plank position with one hand on the other ground and the other hand pointed up toward the sky.  Slowly rotate back to push up position and perform another push up.  At the top of the next push up, rotate to the other side.  Make sure your hip doesn’t dip!

reverse lunges

Standing with feet hip-width apart, step backwards into a lunge position with your right leg.  Make sure legs are in a 90 degree angle and your forward knee isn’t going past your toes.  Push off the right leg back into starting position and switch legs.

supine rotator cuff

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Bring arms out to a “T” position with forearms resting on the floor.  Shoulder blades should be pulled down and back for the entire exercise.  Keeping back flat on the floor, slowly rotate your arms forward and down toward the floor.  Hands should end up 2-4 inches off the ground.  Hold for 15 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat.

Abduction: Lie on your side with legs straight out and feet stacked.  Make sure your body is properly aligned and engage your core muscles.  Raise the upper leg as high as you can while maintaining posture.  Hips and knees should be pointed forward at all times.  Lower back to starting position and repeat.  Do all reps on one side before switching to other leg.

Adduction: Lie on your side with legs straight out and feet stacked.  Bring lower leg forward and gently raise off the floor, squeezing inner thigh muscle.  Lower back to the ground and repeat.  Do all reps on one side before switching to other leg.

superman exercise

Lie facedown on a mat with legs extended straight and arms overhead.  Keeping limbs straight and neck neutral, tighten your core muscles and slowly lift your arms and legs off the ground.  Hold for 2 seconds then slowly release back to the floor.  Repeat.  (Tips: don’t hold your breath and don’t lift your legs so high that you strain your back)


shoulder stretch
From a seated position, extend your right arm across your body in a straight line. Reach your left arm up and pull gently back on your right arm, stretching the shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat with other arm.
standing calf stretch

Stand facing a wall with right foot close to the wall and left leg staggered behind you.  Place hands on the wall and push back into your left leg, feeling the stretch in your calf muscle.  Hold for 30-60 seconds without bouncing, keeping left leg straight.  Repeat on opposite leg.

seated hamstring stretch
From a seated position, extend left leg out front and bring right foot towards left thigh. Reach forward with your left arm as far as possible while keeping leg straight. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat on opposite leg.

kneeling hip flexor stretch progression
From a kneeling position, bring left leg out front with foot flat on the ground. Push body forward through the hips, stretching that right hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring right arm straight up, slightly twisting body to the right and leaning to the left to go further into the stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds then repeat process on opposite side.

glute stretch
From a kneeling position, cross right leg in front of body while extending left leg back. Place hands on floor and sink into the stretch. You can extend even further into the stretch by walking hands out front and bringing chest towards the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat on opposite side.

child's pose
From a kneeling position, bring your arms out in front of you, sink your hips back into your heels, and rest your chest on your knees. Sink into the pose and relax all of your muscles. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Foam Roller (optional)

foam roller it band
Lie on your right side and place your right hip onto the foam roller. Place your hands on the floor for support. Cross your left leg over your right with foot flat on the floor. Roll from your hip towards your knee in small movements. If you come across a spot that is particularly painful, hold the position for 30 seconds before moving on. Repeat on opposite side.

foam rolling the piriformis
Sit on foam roller with it positioned under your right glute. Cross your right leg over your left and lean into the muscle. Roll back and forth in small movements while shifting your body slightly to roll all of the muscle. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before continuing. Repeat on opposite leg.

foam rolling the back
Lie faceup with foam roller under your upper back and feet flat on the floor. Roll from the top of your back to the middle of your back in small movements with your hips elevated off the floor. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before moving on. Be sure not to roll your lower back as this could cause injury.

foam roller calves

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you.  Place the foam roller under your right calf.  Cross your left leg over your right ankle.  Use your hands behind you for support and raise your body off the ground.  Roll forward and back on your calf muscle.  Repeat on opposite leg.


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  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 9, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I just got a foam roller – these demos are really helpful!

  • Julie {CalleLillyCafe} February 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Wow! Love this & need it! I found this via Twitter! thank you.

  • Anton March 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

    You’re SO BEAUTIFUL!! I’ve just fallen in love!