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Fitness Taught Me To Love Myself No Matter What

My name is Danielle, and I want you to know that my fitness journey is still in progress.

I have been a dancer since I was very young, but I became interested in fitness my freshman year of high school.

My Dad taught me the basics such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lunges to get me started. They were easy-to-follow moves, and I continued to do them.

I began to get bored with my routine and I asked my mom to take me to her gym. I tagged along one day and did one of the workouts she was learning from her personal trainer. The workout kicked my BUTT.

Funny thing is, I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say that: I ended up passing out at the gym. And nearly dying. Okay, that part’s a bit dramatic. But it was frightening; my eyes rolled back, my lips turned blue, and I distinctly remember my hearing fading.

At this point, I realized how important eating enough and staying hydrated were. We went in the morning, so I hadn’t felt hungry beforehand and I generally didn’t drink very much water. That was definitely a wake-up call to the nutritional aspect of fitness.

Loving your body requires more than physical activity.

Up until my senior year of high school, I had just tried to figure out the basics. But then, I wanted to be pushed, so I took a weightlifting class. That’s when my love for fitness really took off. As much I loved learning the new lifts, I also learned about other important aspects of training such as how long each rep should be, the correct form for each movement, and about what it meant to believe in and push yourself. 

Not in just the physical sense, but also mentally. High school is filled with immature, like-minded beings who only have one image of what beauty is, so people said a lot of hurtful things. Most of them would claim to be joking, but words hurt.

Along with taking this class, I began to kick box in my local area. This team was incredible. The encouragement and determination of the other members was so inspiring. Everyday after school, I would have dance practice and then I would head to train with them. Even though I had no free time, I was happier than ever and loved spending my days active and on-the-go.

Then I entered my freshman year of college, and I was struggling. I have always been a busy-bee and managed my time well, but this first semester was unlike anything I had ever encountered.

The stress I put on myself became emotionally, mentally, and physically straining. The stress became apparent and my optimism quickly turned into constant crying, calling my parents two or three times a week because all I could manage to feel was hopeless and tired.

Weight (and muscle) slowly slid away because the stress would sit in my stomach, not allowing me to get a full meal down. My hours of sleep became smaller and smaller because I would try to fit too much done in to too little of time. A never ending cycle was established resulting in me being absolutely drained all the time. With my lack of sleep, energy, and food, there was no way I was making it to the gym. 

 

A photo posted by Danielle (@boss_danielle) on


Even though I looked relatively strong, I was weak.

I was not healthy. 

So for my health, I ended up transferring to a school closer to home, and so far it has been the best decision. I have found a balance between school, my friends, getting my workouts in, and extracurriculars. I am involved in the Dance Company at my school, work out regularly, and have recently joined the Women’s Lacrosse Team, along with my participation in clubs, studying, etc.

My (incomplete) fitness journey has been a whirlwind, but it’s made me who I am today. Fitness goes beyond the aesthetic of one’s body. It is something that you do because you love it and you love yourself. It helps you gain an appreciation for yourself that you never had before. You can squat 250 lbs? Heck, then you can do anything!

The encouragement I get from my friends, family, and people I don’t even know has been tremendous. Every insult that has ever been said to me, has only made me try ever harder because I am a strong, independent woman and I love what I do. Some days are harder than others, but you keep on going.

 

A photo posted by Danielle (@boss_danielle) on

Fitness has truly taught me to love myself — no matter what comes my way.

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6 Workout Equipment Must-Haves for When You Can’t Make it to a Gym

Sometimes we don’t have a lot of time. Or space. Or don’t want to deal with the time driving to the gym to find a parking space.

At home workouts to the rescue!

I sometimes feel, however, that with just bodyweight exercises my workout isn’t as efficient. So I’ve invested in a few staple pieces of workout equipment that are both affordable and effective. Trust me, they make you feel the burn.

1. Resistance Bands

resistance bands

If you haven’t heard about these yet, it’s time: resistance bands are a great way to up your workout.

They come in various levels of difficulty (ultra light, light, medium, hard) and styles (from mini bands to regular bands).

The mini bands (pictured above) can be used to work your glutes by placing them around the top of your knees during squats and donkey kick moves, or around your ankles for lunges and kick backs.

The longer resistance bands are good for working upper body. Resistance bands are wonderful for working tiny muscles you don’t normally target – don’t let that “ultra light” band fool you. It’ll still leave you sore the next day.

I found these bad boys online for $12 and they work great, so shop around a little before buying your own!

2. A Set of 5/10 lb. Dumbbells

Dumbbells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or go heavier, if that’s your thing!

Investing in a set of dumbells was a great move for me. I really feel like I can get some muscle building in during a quick workout. When using a lower weight, try upping your reps to really feel the burn during your at home workouts.

3. Yoga Mat

Yoga mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My carpet is always covered in dog hair (no matter how often I vacuum) and the floors are too hard to lay down/do moves on, so I always roll out my yoga mat.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be a yoga mat, any general fitness mat will do. They’re cheap, easy to clean and store, and makes you feel like you’re really getting into the workout mode even though you’re still at home.

4. Kettlebell

kettle-bell

Get your heart rate up at home with the kettlebell. Kettlebell swings work it all. There are SO many exercises you can do with a kettlebell, and they’re crazy effective.

If there’s one thing you buy, I think this should be it. They’re available online for as low as $10! 

5. Foam Roller 

Sometimes you just need a good stretch after a hard lifting day. Take the time to take care of your muscles and use a foam roller to reduce muscle soreness. Make sure you’re doing it right here.  

6. Youtube

If you’re really lacking inspiration in the at home workout department, head over to Youtube. There are hundreds of different fitness accounts geared towards at home workouts.

Some of my favorites are from Functional Muscle FitnessPopsugar Fitness, Jillian Michaels , Yoga with Adriene. There’s literally hundreds, just type in whatever mood you’re feeling in the search bar and the workout you’re looking for is there. Whether its a quick 5 minute ab shred or 30 minute lower body tone, there’s a free gym right at home and a workout class right at your fingertips.

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I Stopped Forcing Fitness and Found My Happy Place

When I was younger, I was always involved in some activity. I tried it all: basketball, dance, soccer, gymnastics. But the one thing that stuck with me was gymnastics. My mom was a gymnast and I wanted to be just like her. 

I dropped all of my other sports and really dove into the gymnastics scene. From age 8 onward, I discovered a love for the sport. Being upside down gave me the biggest thrill and learning new skills was so much fun for me. Gymnastics taught me dedication, it showed me the power of hard work, and it taught me to give it my all – at all times. 
 
But things got a little rocky in my teenage years. Around age 13, I really began to dislike my body. And at 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia. Gymnastics rewarded perfectionism, and I believed that everything had to be perfect, even my body. I didn’t feel satisfied with myself, so I gave it my all to feel satisfied. I started training 20 hours a week. And on top of that, I would work out more at home, including swimming laps, running, or making up my own workouts because I never felt like I was doing enough. And when I didn’t do those extra workouts at home or run that extra mile, I felt an incredible amount of guilt that I could not bear to sit with. I was controlled by exercise. 
 
I ended up quitting gymnastics. My therapist felt it wasn’t best for me, and I knew that I could never fully progress with my recovery if I stayed in the sport. A sport focused on perfection was not the best for my Type A personality.
 
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Fitness sat on the back burner in my life for a bit because my health needed to come first; I had to beat this battle with anorexia. But after lots of treatment and a whole lot of tears, fitness soon made its way back. 
 
However, this time, fitness played a completely different role. Coming from a past of exercise addiction, training 20 hours a week for gymnastics, and exercising for the wrong reasons, I knew that fitness needed to play a much healthier role in my life this time around. 
 
I continued on with yoga, something I started when I was sick with my eating disorder. I discovered a huge love for that. Yoga made me feel alive again. I finally stopped forcing myself to be a slave to cardio machines for every single workout and discovered how amazing lifting weights is. Lifting makes me feel strong and invincible. It makes me feel unstoppable. 
 
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Fitness and I have had a pretty complicated relationship. We’ve had our ups and downs. But I am so thankful for fitness. Because exercise and moving my body is something that I love so much now. The gym has become my therapy. Yoga has made my soul flourish. I appreciate all my body can do now and give it the rest and love it needs. 
 
Moving your body is tons of fun. Especially when you allow yourself to do what you truly want. We all know there is no better feeling than a great sweat. I know that for sure. Yet I also learned how to listen to my body along this fitness journey, and that is something I am so incredibly thankful for. 
 
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How I Got Rid Of My Gym Anxiety

Everyone knows the feeling – you’re pumped to do a great workout, you have an awesome playlist, you’re excited to sweat – that is, until you walk into the gym and see hoards of people who look more fit and experienced than you, lifting seriously heavy weights and using equipment you’ve never touched before.

The feeling is daunting, and can ruin a workout for anyone. Being an introvert, gym anxiety has always followed me since I started venturing in the free weights. But for all of us who suffer from gym anxiety, luckily it doesn’t have to be permanent. 

How I Got Rid Of My Gym Anxiety

When I started college a little over a year ago, I was still glued to the elliptical and wouldn’t dream of touching any weights. After I tried a few Body Pump classes, however, I started to love the way lifting weights made me feel. One of my best friends started showing me bodybuilding exercises, and since then, I have always loved strength and conditioning workouts. The thing I didn’t love was the intense pressure I felt every single time I walked into my university’s gym.

It seemed there was always an underlying, unspoken competition – who can lift the heaviest, who looks the fittest, and who dominates the gym. I hated this stress I felt every time I wanted to workout – not only did I feel like I had to dress and look a certain way, I became nervous to try new equipment for the fear of looking silly or messing up. This ultimately led to a major dislike of my gym and led to my workouts becoming mundane and boring

When I finally went home for summer break, I decided to do a workout in my local gym. Stepping into the gym at home was a completely different atmosphere. There were people of all ages and body types doing crazy workouts that I wouldn’t have dreamed of “embarrassing” myself with at school. I felt comfortable and welcome, not stressed. For the first time, my workout wasn’t focused on the environment around me, but on myself and what my body could do. That summer ended up leading me to better body image, better workouts, and almost no stress.

Going back to school in the fall, I made a decision that my workouts would no longer be focused on my environment, but instead solely on myself. And guess what? It turns out no one really cares what kind of workout your doing. By focusing only on myself at the gym, my workout became so much better and I began to feel much more comfortable in the school’s gym. As soon as I walked through the doors, my hat was on and my music was turned up until the second I left. 

So for everyone that suffers from gym anxiety, the best advice I can give is to focus on nothing but yourself and your goals. Everyone is in the gym for their own reasons, and even though it may seem like people are hyper aware of you, I promise, no one is. Work out for you – not for the people who you’re around. 

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Your Shoes May Be Killing Your Workout: Here’s Why

Although the holidays have passed, we all know that stylish workout clothes can make it feel like Christmas year round. A fit lifestyle often comes with an growing love for workout clothes, and if you’re anything like me, your sneaker collection continues to grow extensively. When shopping, many people prioritize the style or color of their sneakers over their function and design. Do we all do the same workout? No, so we are we buying the same shoes?

Bruce Wilk, physical therapist and owner of The Runner’s High, a running specialty store in Miami, says, “The average time a consumer takes to pick out a pair of running shoes is about 10 to 15 seconds.” 10-15 seconds isnot enough time to assess if a sneaker fits and will work for its intended activity over time. 

While style is definitely important (you want to buy shoes you want to wear), the correct shoe will prevent injury and also maximize the progress you see during your workouts. Outlined below are three types of workout shoes that all are designed very differently for their different purposes. There are many more types, like cycling, hiking, or Crossfit shoes, and I highly encourage you to do research and pick the right option for you!

Running Shoes

Running sneakers are designed with more cushion and stability than the regular training shoe. While some exceptions exist, like minimal shoes like Vibrams, most running sneakers provide shock absorption via air pads and cushions in the heel. Within this category there are many different types of sneakers designed to support the range of running styles our bodies fall into. Every person’s running gait is different, so to find the running shoe perfect for you, go to a running specialty store to be fitted.

At the store, an employee observes your running style and habits to fit you in the best shoe. Be sure to bring along a pair of your usual running socks, and shop later in the day. Your feet swell during the day, just like they do during a run.

Running sneakers are not designed for the lateral motions of regular training, and the padding makes it difficult to balance and exert force during weight lifting. If you want to avoid injury and see progress in your lifts, get a pair of lifting shoes!

Weightlifting Shoes

Ever seen people wearing Converse at the gym? No, these people aren’t making a footwear fashion statement- Converse have a solid, flat base that is characteristic of a weightlifting shoe! Lifting shoes don’t absorb impact like running or training shoes do, so they use all of the force your body produces to move weight. This is also why some people lift barefoot if the gym allows it- a minimal shoe helps strengthen muscles and stabilize the body.  

Additionally, some lifting shoes even have a 1/2-1″ raised heel. Olympic-style weightlifters use these shoes to achieve a deeper squat through increased ankle range of motion. They also help to improve your overall position as well so if you’re looking for a serious shoe look for that raised heel!

Cross Training Shoes

Cross-trainers are designed to play multiple roles in the gym. You can use them for almost any activity — yoga, elliptical, stretching, or a Zumba workout. Cross-trainers are oftentimes heavier than a running shoe, as they have more support for lateral movements. 

Unlike running sneakers, there are less options, as most training shoes don’t differentiate by foot type. Because they have no specific function, they are perfect if you like to mix up your workouts. You also need a general sneaker so you don’t wear down your running sneakers at the gym!

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This Phone Case Will Improve Your Workout

Behold, a phone case that basically makes the gains for you.

Ok, maybe not exactly. But, the Selfie-Z Magnetic Smart Phone Case has shown up all over social media and people everywhere are transforming the way they approach lifting, learning new techniques, and bettering their form. This case has strategically placed magnets on the back so you can just stick it a machine, press record, and lift. Even though it might seem like an unnecessary purchase, it will help your workout immensely. Here’s why: 

 

A video posted by Selfie-Z™ (@selfie_z) on

Check Your Form 

Stick your phone to any piece of gym equipment using the magnets on the back, record your workout and boom, it’s like the paparazzi is just ready to watch you slay your lift. This will help you check your form when you do not have anyone around to check it for you, and it is certainly easier than balancing your phone on top of a foam roller or blender bottle. Seriously, this is a huge help. 

Use the Timer

If you’re doing a HIIT or Tabata workout, just pull up the timer on your phone and get to work. Instead of having to constantly check the clock and waste time, which, in turn, slows your heart rate, you will have your phone right in front of you. And, while you’re casually dying and gasping for air, you’ll be able to watch the seconds pass by until you are finally done with your jumping lunges. #winning 

Take Better Gym Selfies 

Let’s just be honest – whether we admit it or not, we all love to take a good gym selfie. Even if it’s not for social media, it’s nice to have photos to see how far you’ve come. This phone case makes taking the perfect selfie super easy, and best of all, there won’t be any more awkward angles. 

While a bit on the pricier side ($39.99), this phone case has the power to transform your workouts. Try it out for yourself — test your limits, track your progress, and take selfies while you’re at it, but also don’t forget to have fun while staying fit! 

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A Partner Ab Workout You Can Do with Your Valentine

partner ab workout

Why hit the gym alone? Get in a great sweat session and spend time with someone you love with this ab workout.

Planning to hit the gym with your special someone on Valentine’s Day?

Or maybe you’re feeling a little more like this:

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, I promise you can have some fun with this ab workout. Just grab a partner and get ready to feel the burn!

Time: 16 minutes 

Type of Workout: Abs 

Sh*t You Need: A partner, timer, medicine ball (preferably 8+ lbs)

Intensity: easy-high, depending on how much you push each other

Perks: Strengthen your core and have fun with your significant other (or just a friend!)

The Workout:

Complete each exercise for 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest, 2x through: 

Partner bicycles. Slow and controlled movement is the most effective. Make sure your shoulder blades stay off the ground, so that your abs stay fully engaged. 

Medicine ball toss sit-ups. Chest passes are a little safer and easier to catch. If you choose the overhead pass, keep the throw light so you don't hit your partner with too much force.

Partner leg raises. 

Oblique medicine ball pass. Perform this standing for better range of motion. 

Partner plank taps. 

Throw Downs. Alternate between the two of you for each type of throw down (center, left side, right side).

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How to Make Fitness a Life Long Love Affair

“Sometimes, even I get bored with picking things up and putting them down.” -Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Every once in a while, I look at a treadmill and think, wouldn’t it be fun to try running one day?  But then I go to the weight room and crank out my squats and dead lifts per usual because that’s just what I do. -Also Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Are you getting into a funk with your fitness routine?  Is your pep sadly missing from your step every time you head into the gym?  Well, I’ve got the scoop on why we fall victim to routine, and how to make fitness your favorite thing all over again.
 

 

We are creatures of habit.  

I admit it. Once I find a leg day routine that makes my want to cry while I do it, I want to do that routine every time I train because it makes me feel those #bootygainz for days after and because it feels effective. But, fitness is not one-size fits all. What works for you, might not work for me. And, what challenges me, might not challenge you. In order to keep making gains and keep getting stronger, we have to keep shocking our bodies with different movements and training styles to keep the momentum going.
 
If 2017 is really going to be the year you become your strongest and fittest self, let’s follow through with a more well-rounded training regime so we can maintain our excitement for fitness!
 

Go Back to the Basics

Our body is designed to move in multiple planes as a connected unit. Push-ups, pull-ups, step-ups…being able to move your own body around is a pretty incredible thing and takes quite a bit of strength.  
 
 

A video posted by E i l e e n (@simplyeileen_fit) on

 
The best part about bodyweight training is that at any fitness level, it is challenging. You have your basic push-up, ball push-up, clap push-up, and one-arm push-up. Then, you have your fast push-up, slow push-up, and static hold push-up, etc. The list goes on and on. With limitless variations and with consistency, your progress is obvious and pushes you to keep trying new things. At the same time, you are still able to go back to the most basic ways your body was intended to move.  
 

Group Fitness Classes

My favorite part about weight training is that with any frustration or anger I have, I can just put in my headphones and take it out on the weights. But sometimes, I crave that energy and team atmosphere that only group fitness can provide. My best friend takes spin classes like she’s preparing to ride in the Tour de France. So, recently, I tagged along to see why every time she came home, they were all she wanted to talk about.  
 

High energy, loud music, and encouraging pep talks made the class seem like more of a dance party than a workout. I don’t know about you, but sometimes dance parties are the best forms of cardio. Apart from the fact that I hardly ever do cardio in general, the class challenged my mind and body to get through 60 minutes of a fitness activity that was entirely foreign to me. Talk about needing ultra focus. In addition to realizing how much I can improve my aerobic fitness, the positive energy that filled the room stuck with me for the rest of the day and made me giddy to go back to the gym.
 

Change Up Your Cardio

Ok, I just told you that I hardly ever do cardio. “Like ever,” as Taylor Swift may say. On the rare occasion that I decide to step on a treadmill, I run for few minutes…only to get off approximately 6 minutes later because I get bored and hate feeling like I am a hamster running in a little hamster wheel.  
 

I’ve taken enough kinesiology classes at school to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death. So, I feel like doing at least some aerobic activity a time or two each week is something that would really be beneficial in living this whole “healthy lifestyle.” We’ve already established the fact that, for me: 1) running is not an option, 2) I get bored easily, and 3) I hate feeling like a hamster. So, what is a girl to do?
 
To accommodate these strict rules I have for myself for cardio, I love trying new things every cardio session. Sometimes, I like to incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to keep me engaged and because it can be super quick. HIIT workouts can be as short as 10 minutes, which is definitely a win for people who thrive in the weight room instead of the on the track. Occasionally, I’ll take a salsa dancing class with my friends to change it up even more. Cardio, to me, is anything that keeps my heart rate elevated for a period of time, while also keeping my brain entertained.
 
One of my goals at the moment, is to try a new fitness activity each week. Whether it be hiking, TRX, swimming, whatever, I am always looking for new ways to get that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I enter a weight room. Fitness is supposed to challenge your body and push it to its limits, but it is also supposed to feed your soul. So here’s to trying new things and making fitness a life long love affair. Cheers!
 

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Thoughts You Have at the Gym, As Told By Parks & Rec

Thoughts You Have at the Gym, As Told By Parks & Rec

You walk up to the gym and are ready to crush your workout. Sometimes, things go a little differently; we’ve all gone through it before. Here’s how it all goes down.

How you think you look when you walk into the gym:

How you actually look walking in:

At first, you come in with optimism.

But two minutes in on the stairmaster…

Like seriously, why am I sweating so much??

Then, you go over to the squat rack and see that not one but two are open.

And you hit that new PR.

But then you try a new piece of equipment…

*slowly walks away…*

When someone spots you on that last rep:

But then you find out that they’re the kind of person that slams their weights.

You start talking to that cute guy/girl,

And they let you work in on the same machine.

Foam-rolling is always a great idea at the end of your workout,

Along with your protein.

Finally… your workout is complete!

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4 Training Moves for Athletes That Anyone Can Do

Train like an athlete with Xplosive Performance Academy.

These 4 exercises are some of the basic Warm Up exercises used in the Xplosive Performance Academy program, a facility that uses athlete-level training techniques.

What’s great about training like an athlete? ANYONE, even non-athletes, can do it. Here are a few moves you can try in your dorm’s hallway, outside, or literally anywhere with a bit of space.

Although these exercises seem simple, they show how even the simplest movements without the right alignment, body control, balance, flexibility, and core strength can quickly become “difficult”, and how important the simple movements in the XPA program can be.

Give any of these a try? Let us know what you think! Post a photo or video yourself trying any one of the exercises and tag us on twitter or Instagram (@itsuhme_mario & @xpamass) with the hashtag #XPAMeetsFitU

If you’re interested in going through an entire session, visit our Twitter or Instagram or shoot us an email at m.darnell.hines@gmail.com!

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1st Exercise: Forward Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward
    • Don’t swing knees from in to out, knees should go directly out
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body

2nd Exercise: Backward Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

(Everything we do we should be able to do backwards. Shows sign of a balanced body)

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward 
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body

3rd Exercise: Left to Right Froggies (20 yards)

Points of emphasis:

  • Good posture with a slight forward lean
  • Push knees outward 
  • Up & down knee punch motion
    • Movement is forward in a straight line as opposed to a pushing side to side
  • Trail leg (back leg) does not cross lead leg
  • Use trail leg to create distance with each repetition
  • Knee level above the waist band
  • Rhythmic arm movement consistent to running mechanics
  • Limit twisting of upper body
  • Flip at the halfway mark with no false steps
    • No extra steps/transition with one step

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4th Exercise: Side Slides

Points of emphasis:

  • Find a nice bounce with a 2 beat rhythm 
  • Bounce from your dorsiflex location
    • “Kinda” the balls of your feet but not on the toes
  • Push each leg out to stretch hip abductors (outer hips)
  • Swing arms in a 4 beat rhythm 
  • Arms cross over head & cross at waist
  • Maintain body control of 2 different rhythms (upper body & lower body) in one exercise

And that’s it! Watch the video for a complete demo, and don’t forget to tag us when you give them a try. Ready for more? Come train with us!

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New Years Resolutions: Expectation vs. Reality

The start of the new year brings motivation and encouragement to make resolutions. Whether they’re in the gym, in the classroom, or in your personal life, sometimes they just don’t go according to plan.

But never fear! It takes a while to get into a new routine. So here’s some funny memes to remind you not to feel discouraged; we all go through the same thoughts during our “resolutions”.

Working Out Everyday

Expectation:

Reality: 

Meal Prepping Every Sunday 

Expectation:

                         expectations vs reality         expectations vs reality          expectations vs reality

Reality:

           
                                 

Getting straight A’s

               Expectation:

                               

                Reality:

                              

Get More Sleep / Wake up earlier 

                   Expectation:

                                      

                 Reality:

                                       

Drink more water 

             Expectation:

 
                             

 

           Reality:

                                 

Whatever your New Years Resolutions may be, just remember you’re not alone here at Fit University! And if you fall off the healthy lifestyle wagon that’s okay, just remember to jump back on when you’re ready. 

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Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

stick to your new year resolution

Every year do you find yourself losing motivation or not following through with your New Year’s resolution? Well, this is a new year and you have made new resolutions, so here are a few tips to make sure you stick to them! 

Make your goal realistic.

Sometimes when you set a big goal it is hard to see results, the light at the end of the tunnel. Go for the big goal, but it might be easier if you make smaller goals so you see success along the way to encourage you and motivate you to continue.

Make a routine.

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Depending on your resolutions make a routine. When you are trying to eat healthier, workout more often, or reach your push-up goal, make a schedule. Get into the habit of working out every morning or every day before dinner. Get in the habit of packing your lunch the night before so you cannot use the “no time” excuse. Dedicate Sunday or Saturday morning to cooking in bulk for the week. Therefore, when you have a busy day and cannot cook you still have a homemade healthy meal.

Remind yourself.

Make an inspiration board to help remind you of your goals. Want to get healthier? Make it full of workouts or healthy foods and inspirational quotes. Trying to swear less or be more positive? Fill a board with alternative words that reflect the language and attitude you want to have.

If you’re trying to simply trying to enjoy life more or be a nicer person or take life day by day, live slowly and enjoy each moment create a board with inspirational quotes or pictures to remind you. These could be pictures of things you enjoy doing. 

You can carry physical reminders with you, too. Wear a new bracelet, and tell yourself you’re putting it on for a specific reason. When you see it, it’ll give you a friendly reminder of your resolution. Not into jewelry? Change the background on your phone to a quote or a picture to that reminds you of your goals. We are always on our phones, so you’ll be sure to see it! And hey, if your goal is it limit your phone use, then put a big X or stop sign on your phone screen. Need a more jolting motivator? Set alarms on your phone with titles that remind you to eat an apple, do 10 push-ups, or take 3 deep breaths and remind yourself to take life moment by moment.

Set a time limit.

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It is much easier to achieve a goal when you set a time limit. For example, say you want to be able to run 5 miles by spring break, you won’t eat out for 3 months, or you will do three acts of kindness per day. Quantifying your goals eliminates any doubts about what you want to accomplish.

Reward yourself. 

Every time you cook a meal or are able to do one more push up, put a dollar in a jar. This is a great way to save money – and you can spend it on a bigger reward later. Or if you finish your goal early tell yourself you’ll reward yourself with a massage, your favorite restaurant meal (Skyline Chili would be mine), or even a pricy studio workout. Incentives are a great form of encouragement.

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3 Yoga Mistakes You Might Be Making – and How to Stop

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I recently obtained my 200-hour yoga teacher certification, and if you’ve talked to me ever, I’ve probably mentioned yoga (Don’t worry, I have other interests, too). In my last few months of teacher training, a lot of students have talked to me about their own yoga insecurities and I have picked up on little mistakes I see during class. Also, I believe yoga is a pretty misunderstood form of movement. Lots of people tell me they want to get into it, but are intimidated. 

And all I want to do is make it less intimidating and make you love yoga. Ready to give it a shot? Here are three common, easily-fixable mistakes to avoid. 

Mistake #1: Thinking you have to be x to do yoga.

The one thing that people always tell me about yoga is that they can’t do it. Why?

  • “It’s for flexible people.”
  • “It’s not a real workout.”
  • “I can’t relax.”
  • “I’m not strong enough.”
  • “I’m too big.”
  • “I won’t pay $330 for fancy yoga clothes.”

Some people are flexible, but not all that strong. Some people are strong, but not all that flexible. Doing yoga can help with both of those, and it will look different for different people. There are modifications you can take for all sorts of limitations or areas of discomfort. Don’t have super strong shoulders? Take chataranga dandasana on your knees. Can’t bend into a full wheel? Try bridge pose. You always have options in yoga! 

And you totally don’t need to buy Lululemon clothes. Just wear comfy workout clothes you can move in.

Mistake #2: Sacrificing good form to bend more.

 

A photo posted by Ellen (@myuncommoneveryday) on

Since a lot of people think yoga is all about being super flexible, a lot of people who come to class think that if they can bend more, they should. That’s not always true. If you’re locking out your joints, clenching your jaw, or pulling your shoulders up to your ears, maybe ease back a little. And if any pose hurts, stop. #commonsense

Mistake #3: Skipping savasana.

I confess: I used to be this person. I just worked out, so why would I want to lie around and nap? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Let me yell this at you: NO. Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is not a waste of time. And, frankly, even though you’re just chilling out on your mat, it’s not easy. Just telling yourself to relax doesn’t always work, and that’s exactly what you’re practicing in savasana. You spend most of your workouts, and even most of your yoga class, focusing on your body. This is the time to focus on your mind. You need a strong mind and body as you move through your daily life, so just hang out on your mat for a couple minutes at the end of class and quiet your thoughts.

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You Know You Need a Good Workout When…

There are plenty of times when I find myself feeling off my game. Maybe I’m doing or saying things that I don’t normally. Or maybe I’m feeling restless. Those are some of the ways I know it’s time for me to hit the gym or sign up for a fitness class.

Here’s my list of other ways I know I need a good workout when…

I get irritable.

If I start to get in a bad mood and I don’t know the exact reason for it, chances are I just need to sweat it out!

I have a lot of energy…and time.

What better way to use my energy than put it to good use towards those #gains?

Or on the other hand, I can’t sleep. 

I haven’t used all my energy and lay awake at night. Even though I’m mentally tired, I’m physically not. “Alright,” I think, lying there jittery. “I’m going for it tomorrow.” 

I’ve gone without access to an exercise facility for longer than I would like.

There are times when I have traveled or just had full days of class, cleaning, and activities. During those times, I just can’t find the extra hour to spend or the energy I need to work out (and that’s ok!). In these cases, I try to find the time before and after those busy days to get those workouts in and balance myself.

I take a rest day or two and realize I’m missing my edge.

Time to get back on the horse! This usually happens if I’m not getting enough rest or eating right and need to take care of myself by giving myself time to catch up and heal. When I realize I’m out of it, then it’s time to get back into it.

I crave unhealthy food.

Think about it: why am I craving that food? Sometimes, I just am. Sometimes, I go ahead and treat myself. But sometimes that craving is more emotional. If I just went ahead and indulged and skipped the gym every time I felt this way, 0 actual problems would be solved and I’d feel pretty terrible from all the junk. This is how a downward spiral happens. Eat well, sleep well, do well, feel well.

I’m training for something.

I trained for the Spartan Race Sprint that took place in June and boy, that was incentive to give my best every time I was in the gym.

I just need to feel good.

My favorite part of exercising is the post-workout high. This only comes after I workout and I know I have a lot to feel good about and be thankful for. It turns a crappy day into a good day pretty quickly!

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The Trainers At This Gym Have More Experience Than You Think

I grew up in “America’s safest city” where the worst crime was wearing the same homecoming dress as another girl in school. If I told my friends and family that I was being dropped off at a secret location to workout, they would definitely have disapproved. 

Naturally, I went anyways. I was invited by InnerCity Weightlifting to one of their two secret locations in the Boston area for a training session.

I Was Trained By An Ex-Con, and Here's How It Went

InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston organization that takes high-risk individuals – those who have been shot, done significant jail time, and/or grown up on a family income under $10k per year – and teaches them how to be personal trainers. They develop their students’ physical training skills as well as the social, academic, and networking support needed, which college students like us take for granted. In doing so, InnerCity Weightlifting makes a huge impact in the community they work with by decreasing street violence and creating a social change. In keeping their gym location a secret, they are able to provide a safe space for their students who have certain conflicts with others. Read more about their mission here.

Due to their secret location and my lack of navigation skills, I eventually found the location and entered an ordinary building, only to open the doors to a pretty damn good-looking facility.

I was greeted by Josh, the Director of Development and Communication who originally invited me, and he introduced me to all the trainers. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, so Mom and Dad, no need to worry.

After getting dressed in appropriate attire, I met with my trainer for the day, Carlos. We started up with some dynamic warm-ups and then he took me through a killer workout. It looked easy on paper, but with his encouragement to go for just one more rep, I was sweating for the entire hour.

Being a personal trainer myself, I can appreciate when someone knows what they’re doing. In our time together, it didn’t matter that we live in opposite walks of life, that we call very different parts of town home, or whether or not our free time is spent on probation or in the library. The only thing that mattered was that I, Carlos’s client, got a good workout in. And I liked Carlos… that is, until he said “Give me 10 burpees“.

In the end, I sweated my ass off. Was my safety at risk? No. Did I feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, as I honestly probably would have if I saw a guy like Carlos out on the streets? No.

I did, however, get killed (by rope slams) and was tortured (by wall sits).

It is so easy to judge someone by their looks or background, but until you see what they are capable of doing, you don’t know them. You don’t know that Carlos just wants his kids to have a better life than him. You don’t know that he is a great trainer, regardless of whether or not he has a fancy certification. You won’t know until you’ve had a conversation with him or trained with him. 

I Was Trained By An Ex-Con, and Here's How It Went

There’s Carlos teaching a group class at one of their secret locations!

If I’m being completely honest, I wouldn’t have had this mindset before I met Carlos. I would have said that I don’t treat people differently, but in reality, I would have. It’s in my nature. I was born in a town where if something does not fit a cookie-cutter image, it means danger, and you’d rather be safe than sorry. But life is short, and I recognize that it’s sometimes better to step out of your comfort zone than to stay in this cookie-cutter mindset.

Lesson learned? There are numerous social justice groups who just want to make change. But change doesn’t happen by saying how you feel. Change happens when you physically dive into the community and take action, which is exactly what InnerCity Weightlifting is doing. 

Want to get involved with InnerCity Weightlifting? Click here for more information.

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Taking My Body Back After My Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

You can work through almost anything if you push yourself.

During the second semester of my freshman year, I started to notice that I was really tired from walking to class and walking up the stairs to my room left me out of breath and winded.

To give you some background, I’ve always been a pretty active and healthy person. I played sports growing up, enjoyed running in high school, and I loved my fruits and vegetables. When I got to college, none of that changed even though life got a whole lot crazier. My schedule was busy and life was chaotic, but I kept up with it. 

Well… until that semester. I thought that maybe I just had a weird bug or virus and that it would get better. It didn’t.

Unfortunately, it got worse. I began to wake up with terrible pain in my muscles and joints. I felt exhausted no matter how much sleep I got. After a couple months of this, I began to realize that something was definitely wrong. My body didn’t feel like it was mine anymore… it felt old, tired, and weak.

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After months of going to different doctors and specialists and getting various tests, I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder that affects muscles, joints, energy levels, and the mind. Those who suffer from fibromyalgia experience a variety of pain and constant exhaustion, as well as “brain fog” which effects focus and memory. Fibromyalgia is considered an “invisible illness.” Those who suffer from it may look healthy and be able to function, but in reality they are suffering from what can be tremendous pain and fatigue. The worst moment I experienced was one day when I couldn’t get out of bed. My body was so physically exhausted and ache-y that I legitimately couldn’t leave my bed.

Since I was diagnosed, I’ve tried various treatments, medicine, and natural remedies. At first I was told not to push myself too far physically and to stretch my muscles in the morning and at night. That really didn’t work, so I was prescribed drugs that were shown to help some patients. The problem with fibromyalgia is that everyone’s case is different, so everyone needs a different type of treatment. After a year or so, the medicines did help but I still didn’t feel like the “old” me. I still felt my body wasn’t mine, and I wanted to get it back.

So at the beginning of 2016 I resolved to better myself and my body, doing whatever it took to get there. And I started to go to the gym.

At first, I was intimidated by everyone who seemed to know exactly what they were doing. It was a scary experience for me… I was a workout newbie who’d never really lifted weights in her whole entire life. I felt a little judged and a lot inadequate. There were times that I gave up and told myself that this wasn’t for me.

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But thankfully, a friend showed me the ropes. She taught me how to lift right and how to work out and target different muscle groups. She showed me what to do and what to eat to get stronger. She was patient with me, but also pushed me to stay dedicated to it. Once I got a handle on it, I began to work out on my own.

Now I’m at the point where I go to the gym nearly every day. I’m setting PRs and seeing my body change and get stronger. And it’s amazing, really. I feel like I have my life, my body back. I feel like I’m kicking fibromyalgia’s butt one rep at a time.

Today I am happier, healthier, and hella stronger than I have ever been. And it’s absolutely empowering. Just two years ago doctors told me that I probably would never be able to be as active as I once was, that fibromyalgia would always dictate my life. But now I can say that I’m the one calling the shots, not fibromyalgia. I’m doing things that they said I might never be able to. And I can’t explain how good that feels.

I’m not sure where you’re at in your fitness journey. Maybe you’re just beginning, maybe you’re a seasoned gym rat. But my encouragement to you is to never give up. Think of your biggest fitness goals and dreams… I promise you that they’re reachable, with perseverance, a strong mindset, and a willingness to fall at times. There are so many times when I have failed and have felt defeated, but I didn’t stay there. I got back up and tried harder until I accomplished it. Everyone’s fitness journey is unique and different, but they all require hard-work, dedication, a little courage, and a lot of perseverance. I’m cheering for you!

This fitness story was written by Erin Mathews. To see more, check out her blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Winter is Coming: Why You Brace the Cold and Exercise Outdoors

Yes winter is coming. It is often said that this is ” The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, why not make it the most wonderful time of the year to exercise? It might sound crazy, but recent research has proven so.

You might live up north where it snows more than it doesn’t, or you could be in the deep south asking yourself, “what is even snow?” Or if you’re like me, you could just honestly be dreading the cold weather all together.

The Facts

Fitness experts and researchers are saying that working out outdoors during the winter can offer benefits that one might not be aware of. It might not seem like the sun is shining during the winter months, but it is. Exposing yourself to some good ol’ vitamin D may help you fend off those winter blues.

“Going for a walk in the park after a fresh snowfall is one of the most exhilarating, stress-reducing things I can think of,” says Wotjek Jan Chodzko-Zajko, head of the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (go Illini!). He  runs to and from work everyday no matter the season. The study does have the claim saying “if it is bitterly cold stay inside”, but that should be common sense.

The Tips

There are four easy tips to keep in mind when your are going to work out in the winter months.

1. Dress the Part– one word: LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS. Having your hands, feet and head covered up is important too because a majority of your body heat escapes there.

2. Warm up Inside– Its always important to warm up before working up, but in the winter months, warming up inside will be a lot more comfortable and overall better for your body.

3. Beware of the Sun– Often over looked, use sunscreen. If the sun is bright or reflecting off the snow wear some sunglasses.

 

4. Drink Up- People tend to think they are less thirsty in the colder months, despite the fact that we actually need to drink more. Our bodies in the winter receive less moisture than in the warmer months. Another reason is we don’t sweat as much- that doesn’t mean we aren’t losing water.

Now that you have the information you need, don’t be afraid to get out there, exercise, and enjoy these wonderful winter months because in the blink of an eye its going to be summer…not that I’m complaining.

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You’re Probably Foam Rolling Wrong.

 

As a powerlifter, I am super into foam rolling. As a personal trainer, I am super into making sure that people are foam rolling correctly. What I most often see is people rolling back and forth on the foam roller. This may feel great and feel like it’s working but I can promise you: this is not giving you the full effect that you may expect from foam rolling.

I first learned this when I got my personal training certification. In fact, it was one of the first things that I learned. Just a few months later, this was backed by my college kinesiology course… and then my neuroanatomy course. By the time I got to neuroanatomy, my understanding of this concept was in-depth and it got so real for me.

I’m not going get into the nitty gritty science aspect of all of this, because that can get super confusing. It took awhile for me to understand it all and I don’t want to make this too complicated.

So here’s the bottom line. While most people believe that they should roll back and forth over the foam roller, I want to give you the steps to really get the full effect of a foam roller. I will use the hamstring as an example.

Here’s how you foam roll:

  1. Unfortunately, we need to begin by preparing for a little bit of pain, as we will be spending some time on one particular spot of our muscle.
  2. Start with the foam roller under you, just above the knee. If this is a new process for you, begin with a foam roller that has more give.
  3. Slowly move your body using your arms and allow the foam roller to move up your leg. Remember to move SLOWLY!
  4. As you move up your leg, you will get to a point where the pain gets a whole lot more intense. Although your whole hamstring may feel tight, there is typically one or more spots that have a more intense knot that is causing the tightness.
  5. When you find that spot, HOLD IT THERE! Stay there for at least 45 seconds, or until you feel the muscle relax. I know it may hurt, but try not to tense the leg up.
  6. Once you feel the muscle relax, make sure that there aren’t any other parts of your hamstring that feel really tight. If there are, repeat the process until you feel the muscle relax.

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Although this may feel more painful than just rolling up and down the tight muscle, I promise you it is worth it! You will feel like a whole new person after using this technique.

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5 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Your Fit Friends

We’ve all been there: you glance at your calendar, realize you have a holiday party tomorrow, and you’re totally gift-less. You love your friends, but you’re crazy busy and sometimes forget to plan ahead. It happens to the best of us.

But no worries! Here are five gift ideas for your fit friends that work not only your limited college budget, but also your limited time frame. And hey, maybe you can get someone to give you some of them. 

1. A subscription box

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These are gifts that keep on giving. We all know it gets harder and harder to stay healthy as you get busier, but these boxes make it a little easier. Pay for a few months of a snack box or general fitness box and your friend will think of you every time a new one shows up at the door.

Bonus: all you have to do is sign up – the company takes care of delivery.

2. A massage

When you’re into working out, it’s important to rest and recover properly, but we don’t all do it. Get your friends a gift card to a nearby massage studio and remind them to take care of themselves!  

3. Energy bites

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Whip up a batch or two of energy bites and print out the recipe. Wrap it all up nicely and give your friends some healthy snacks for the holidays. Doesn’t everyone appreciate being given food? Plus, since you gave them the recipe, too, they can enjoy this gift long after the first batch is gone.

4. An insulated water bottle

Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy. It helps beat pain and fatigue, improves digestion, and can even improve your mood. Grab a good insulated one and it will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, making it as perfect for rehydrating post-workout as filling up on coffee for class.

5. A healthy cookbook

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Most bookstores (and even Targets) have a wide variety of cookbooks. You can get one for your gluten-free friend, one for your vegan friend, and one for your friend who eats anything at the same time. What’s that they say about teaching a man to fish?

So don’t stress about gift-giving this season, just use one of these easy gift ideas that are totally useful and require minimal effort – and have fun!

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How To Start Running If You Hate Running

Some people think I’m absolutely crazy when I tell them that I love to run.

They say things like: “How could you possibly love something so painful and tiring?” and “Are you nuts? No one actually enjoys running.”

Truth be told, running is one of my favorite things in the world, and there are a few reasons why.

1. You are in control.

When you run, you are in complete control of your breathing, pace, and the way you move your body. You choose to speed up or slow down; no one is in charge but you!

I like to set a timer and then just run, letting my body and mind set the pace. Some days I keep the same pace throughout the entirety of the run, while other days I like to change it up by sprinting a bit and then jogging.

2. Set yourself free.

Another reason why I love running so much is because it gives me a sense of ultimate freedom. When I’m running, I just feel free. There is no other way to explain it. My worries trail behind me with every stride and my mind becomes more and more clear. Something about the combination of fresh air, sunshine, heavy breathing, and endorphins…. It’s got me hooked.

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3. It’s an excuse to listen to music.

I am a person who loves listening to music, so running gives me an extra hour to jam out to some good tunes. This may sound a bit silly, but honestly your playlist can make or break your run. Some songs get me extra pumped and motivate me to run faster, better, and for a longer period of time.

4. De-stress and cure that anxiety.

I have always been a pretty anxious/worried person and running helps me deal with this. It allows me to focus on myself for the time being and really be in the moment. While I’m running, I can re-evaluate my actions, set good intentions, and think about my goals for the future and how I am going to accomplish them. I like to think of it as channeling my anxious energy in a positive way.

5. The aftermath.

When you finish a long run, you just feel AMAZING. You think to yourself, “Yes, I just ran all that and yes, I am amazing.” You realize how much you have already accomplished and it leaves you wanting to accomplish more.

But I hate running. How do I start? 

These are just a few of the reasons I became passionate about running. Whether you are someone who has a lot of energy and needs an outlet or someone who just wants to start running more often, here are some tips for you.

Start slow.

Do not push yourself to the max right from the start. Start with a moderate pace and work up to a faster one. Once you get in the groove of running, it will be easier to go faster than if you start out super fast and the use up all your energy in the beginning.

The hardest part is getting yourself out the door.

Know this from the start. Push yourself to wake up when that alarm goes off, put those earbuds in, and walk out the front door. Try not to think about how you will feel on your run, just get yourself out there! Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Go at your own pace.

Everyone runs differently. Do what feels most comfortable to you and try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Listen to the signs that your body gives you and focus on improving your breathing and form throughout your run.

Now lets shake off the haters, get out there, and get running! Who’s with me? 🙂

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Beating the Stigma: You CAN Go Abroad and Stay Fit

The cover image of this article is me practicing after taking a yoga class…in Spanish…talk about accelerated learning!

Before I left to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, people laughed when I said I was worried about staying healthy. I was told to eat all the paella, drink all the sangria, and enjoy my time abroad.

This sounds like an ideal scenario, except that I know how lethargic I start to feel after not eating much fresh food. I was used to cooking for myself in my apartment with familiar foods from Whole Foods that was conveniently at the end of my street. I was nervous I would not be able to restrain myself from eating paella everyday and skipping the gym.

Confirmed: The paella was AMAZING!

I, alongside those who doubted my healthy habits, was wrong.

Here’s my answers to your study-abroad fitness fears:

How am I going to workout?

The first week of my study abroad program, I joined a gym. It was a convenient 5-minute walk from my apartment and on my way home from school. It was the perfect location to help me make sure I was exercising at least four days a week.

I went on weekdays, but often skipped it on the weekends; I traveled a lot when I was abroad, so most of the time, I was unable to get to the gym Friday-Sunday. Occasionally, when I got home on Sundays, I would run down to the harbor and watch a dance group perform and run back. But the weekdays were more than enough to keep me fit.

When I was abroad, I started and finished Kayla Itsines BBG 1. It felt amazing to finally complete week 12. Heck, it felt good to pass week 5. It helped having a routine abroad that consisted of a lot of LISS via hikes and walking through the streets. Having a program to follow was very helpful because it gave me something to stick with, even with all of the excitement around me.

I appreciated having friends in my apartment and in my study abroad program who also belonged to the same gym as I did and who would go with me during the week. Friends are great motivators. I was able to stay disciplined, improve my health, and enjoy the experience of studying abroad.

Biking through Amsterdam to see the city and keep moving to stay warm!

Biking through Amsterdam to see the city and keep moving to stay warm!

What am I going to eat?

Here in America, we don’t have to think too much about what food we’re going to buy for the week. We know what we like, what brand to buy, and where to find it. This all changes when you go to a country that speaks a different language.

Lucky for me, I knew enough Spanish to read labels and find what I was looking for. This made it easy for me to try new foods during the week and cook local dishes with my roommates as well. The fact that I knew Spanish also helped because in my neighborhood in Barcelona, there was obvious price discrimination. If I walked into the convenience store to buy something, I would speak in Spanish and therefore, I would be charged less than my friends who walked in speaking English.

During the week, I would cook at home in our kitchen. You learn that it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle even when it would be so easy to empty your bank account at every savory restaurant in town. I ate a lot of ground turkey, pasta and vegetables. I packed a lot of protein bars and fruit in my backpack for snacks while I walked through the city to pass the time, and for lunch, I religiously ate a turkey grilled cheese. This made for easy grocery shopping.

La Boqueria, a large market on one of the main streets, La Rambla in Barcelona

La Boqueria, a large market on one of the main streets, La Rambla in Barcelona

When I would travel on the weekends, I would make sure to bring enough snacks. That way, I would not have to buy big, expensive meals at a sit down restaurant.

I ate a lot on the go and would sometimes eat food sold on the street. I learned about the traditional foods and never went hungry, all on a budget.

The key is not to deprive yourself: I still experienced all the great foods the country had to offer. But I would pick a couple of meals to splurge on over the weekend that allowed me to maintain a healthy(ish) diet and experience the local culture.

In some ways, experiencing the culture actually helped me stay healthy. We wanted to walk everywhere in the city we visited, so that we could absorb all of the sights. With that came all of the good food, too. My favorite place for cheap, fancy food was Prague in the Czech Republic. My favorite place for sweet, rich food was Florence, Italy. And my favorite place for any food, any time of day, was Barcelona, Spain (but I’m biased).

Brunch in Barcelona is to die for!

Brunch in Barcelona is to die for!

I learned that what it comes down to, no matter where you are in the world, is balance.

Every meal on the weekend cannot be a cheat meal; otherwise you come home from traveling feeling disgusting. But at the same time, that’s not to say you should avoid cheat meals. Cheat meals make you appreciate all kinds of food. It’s all about moderation.

I would make sure to try the signature dishes of wherever I traveled and I chose restaurants wisely so it was a combination of good food and easy on the wallet. Trying new things is the point of studying abroad! It just helps if you feel healthy, strong, and fit while exploring the world.

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What Nobody Tells You About Training for a Marathon

Yesterday, I ran my first marathon!

To be completely honest, as weird as is it was, I enjoyed the training 10x more than the actual race. With the combination of the freezing temperature, and 30mph winds it was t.o.u.g.h. I also am fighting a cold, so I had taken Sudafed before running, which left me feeling awfully dizzy at some (OK most) miles (note: don’t ever do that!!).

Despite the unplanned resistance training (credz to @h3ath3rf3ath3r for the term) and my body not cooperating, I am beyond happy for the experience and beyond glad I did it. And I would be amiss if I didn’t mention how blessed I am to have met so many amazing, like-minded individuals… peep Heather and Caroline!

I can truly say that I have grown to love the sport of running, and this definitely won’t be my last marathon. Congratulations to all the runners of the Philly Marathon, especially my friends Ron, Heather, Asja, Ross, Heather, and Caroline!

Finish line!

Finish line!

Now, since I am sure you don’t want a full mile-by-mile recap (and since I spent mile 8-18 thinking about this yesterday), here are a few things that nobody tells you about training for a marathon: 

It hurts. 

It hurts in weird ways.  Parts of your body that you didn’t even know existed will hurt. You may even get a sexy sports bra rash. But, that’s OK, if it didn’t hurt, you would be a super human.

picture not appropro –> chest completely torn up from sports bra

There will come days, where you will have to hop on a treadmill and run massive amounts of miles.

When I left school to work for a weekend in Baltimore, I ran 15 miles on a treadmill, watched the news loop 3 full times, and had to restart the treadmill 4 times.  It will be rough. But, when you are done you will feel like you can conquer anything, and you CAN.

On the same note, there will be days that you have to  wake up or go to bed at ungodly hours in order to get your miles in.

But, that’s the price we are willing to pay.  You’re whole body and soul needs to be in it.

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Life doesn’t put itself on hold. 

Yeah, maybe you ran 18 miles that morning, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to school, or work, and be on your feet all day. But, that’s OK, running a marathon is meant to add to your life, not take away.

You will know everything there is to know about your area, and all the ~cool~ trails, roads, and sites there are to see.

 

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The second day is the worst.

Sure, you may be sore and tired after that long run, but the next day…. that’s when it gets ya. Beware of ~the steps~.  But that’s OK, sore means you pushed yourself.

Your phone, or your ipod, will most likely die at one point when you need it most. 

But, that is also when you will grow the most. There is something beautiful in being so immersed in  the world.

The hunger is real. 

When you rev your metabolism that hard that frequently, you’re going to be hungry, ravenous maybe.  It’s kind of a struggle but at the same time wonderful because your body needs all that good food.

There is a point when the issue isn’t your cardiovascular system being tired, but your mind being tired. 

You will experience some of the mentally toughest hours you ever have, but nothing worth having comes easy. I wrote an article on how to get through those tough long runs if you are interested.

There are times you are going to want to cry and times that you are going to be on top of the world. 

It is a roller coaster, but one worth waiting in line for.

photo3

 

But, this is all OK, it is not meant to be easy.

It is meant to change you and to challenge you.  It is meant to give you a new perspective on life and your body. 

This is all OK, because the moment you cross that finish line will be one of the best moments of your entire life, and NOTHING can take that away from you.

photo4

 

YOU MAKE YOU xoox,

Colby

Check out these articles too: 

3 Reasons To Work Out on Thanksgiving – and 1 Reason Not To

work out on thanksgiving

It’s the holidays, which means it’s that time of year when we get to take a little extra time off work or school, spend it with the people we love, and eat a ton of delicious food. It’s also the time of year when your news feed gets flooded with articles saying you’re eating way too many calories, telling you how to work out on Thanksgiving to maximize your afterburn, and that you better start running because that piece of pie or mountain of mashed potatoes isn’t going to burn itself off.

And while I’m all for working out, it should be done with a positive mindset. It should be about what fitness adds to your life (fun, energy, connection), not what it subtracts (calories). So while I’m not going to tell you not to work out on Thanksgiving – or any other day – think about why you’re doing it.

Work out because…

…it’s tradition.

Does your family dress up for the local Turkey Trot every year? Or do you all gather in the backyard for a competitive game of football after the big feast? Great. You get to spend time with people you love, make some awesome memories, and get some movement in. 

…you’re training for something.

Whether you’re a college athlete or a recreational runner training for a race, you probably have a training schedule. Unless Thursdays are usually your rest days, that schedule will probably tell you to work out on Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s a holiday, so you could totally skip that run (#noshame), but you could also probably just squeeze it in and stick to the plan. Thanksgiving dinner sounds like a pretty satisfying post-workout meal to me.

…you feel like it.

Maybe you wake up on Thanksgiving morning with boundless energy and the desire to lift some seriously heavy weights. Maybe the weather is beautiful and you’re home for the first time in months and you want to go for a run. Maybe you have been traveling a lot and you’re craving a good stretch, so you do some yoga. You do you. 

Don’t work out because…

…you “have” to.

You don’t have to! Are you going to eat a lot of wonderful food with your family? I sure hope so. But no one meal is going to ruin your fitness. So if you wake up exhausted on Thanksgiving morning and having the energy to work out isn’t in the cards, that’s okay. If all you want to do is relax with your family and cuddle your dog, do that.

Because, like working out, the holidays are for enjoying.

Check out these articles too:

This One Tip Will Help You Get Fit on A Busy Schedule

I’m a college student, so I fully understand giving the all-too-common excuse to not exercise: there’s just not enough time.

I’m also a personal trainer, so I fully understand the importance of making the time. Exercise is so important not only for maintaining your physical health, but for your mental health as well. Exercise is actually a major stress reliever, and the more you stick with it, the better it feels!

So I’m here to help you figure out how to fit it all in.

untitled

Yeah, we’re gonna do some scheduling.

Here’s what I want you to do. Print out a table similar to the one above (I simply searched ‘single day schedule template’ on Google to find this one). Fill it out three days in a row, or for as many days as you need to look at before you really understand where all 24 hours of your day are going.

I don’t just mean write down the major events in your day like classes and meetings. I mean write down EVERY single thing you do in your day. Include Netflix, naps, browsing the web, scrolling through social media, homework, work, and class.

Now go back and look at those time slots that you filled with Netflix, naps, browsing and scrolling. Of course, some of the time is important. It is important to take a break now and then, refresh your mind, and take some deep breaths.

But take out a half hour from any of those activities and insert exercise. It’s that simple! (You can even try out one of our quick workouts if you’re short on time) I know you can do it, because when it comes down to it, we are all capable of doing it, if we just find the time. That’s why your time management is key.

They key to managing your workouts and staying fit at school? Schedule your time. Manage your day. Take control of your free time and use it to take care of your body and mind with exercise. Chances are, you’ll feel even better during the other parts of your day too.

Check out these articles too:

The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back

The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back; Fitness

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t really think I have one.  

After putting so many miles in on the treadmill, one day I just walked into the weight room. I don’t know why, but I did know that  being surrounded by people stronger than me didn’t scare me. It gave me the “strength” — no pun intended — to work harder so I could keep up with the rest.  

 

A video posted by E i l e e n (@simplyeileen_fit) on

I liked the feeling of burning muscles, pouring sweat and feeling like I may cry out of exhaustion because I knew I could push through that weakness.  This would discourage most people from ever walking into the weight room again, but I knew I had found my sport, and I knew I wanted to get better.

Now, I live for callused hands and soaked through shirts. I live for that moment when I can push the last rep of a personal record, put the bar down, and do a little happy dance because what I thought I couldn’t do, I just did.

No one can deadlift for you. No one can push past that limit for you. No one can tell you where and when your comfort zone ends. You have to find it, you have to journey through it, and you have to go even further. It’s all you. And that’s what I love the most.

When my mind tells me to stop, that’s when I have to tell it, “No, Eileen. You can do this.” 

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t have a story, because its not over.  

Each day when I step foot into the gym, there’s a new goal. Form, focus, reps, whatever, it all leads to the main event. 

Each day I get up and I train, making the choice to work towards my goal of walking on the NPC stage.  Each day I make the choice to work towards the day where I’ll earn my IFBB Pro card and the day where I’ll qualify for the Olympia roster.  Each day I work towards the day where they announce my name as Ms. Bikini Olympia.

Each day I get up and I train.  And that’s why.

So you want my fitness story?  Just keep reading, keep watching, and see for yourself how it unfolds.

Check out these articles too: 

Do This Outdoor HIIT Workout Anywhere

No time for the gym? Here’s a quick outdoor HIIT workout to get your heart rate up. Bonus points if it’s a sunny day (gotta get that vitamin D.) 

Time: 20 minutes (or complete twice for 40 minutes) 

Type of Workout: HIIT

Sh*t You Need: Park bench

Intensity: High

Body Target: Full body

Perks: Fresh air 

The Workout: 

Complete 4 rounds of the following circuit. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds and then rest 15 seconds. Continue immediately to the next exercise until you complete all 5.

-Box jumps
-Push ups 
-Plyo step ups 
-Split squats 
-Mountain climbers

Notes

  • Bring a friend for some extra motivation. 🙂
  • Modify the rest times for easier or more difficult options. 
  • Look to the video above for demonstrations if needed.

Check out these workouts too: 

How I Fell in Love with the Post-Workout High (And You Can, Too)

Starting Something New…or Trying

I’m a college gal. I love to eat, sleep, talk, explore, learn, and (above all) live.

I emphasize “live” because I am so much more alive now than I was when I started college three years ago. Three years ago, I was waning off of my high school days, when I depended entirely on sports practices and pasta to get me through.

I love sports, dancing, and gymnastics and growing up, I never stopped moving. In high school, I loved coming home with the post-practice or post-game high feeling like I just took on the world. I’m 5’4” and weighed 103 pounds entering college. I was 18, moody, and definitely immature.

I started college and lived across the street from the gym, literally. My window’s scenic view was of the treadmills on the third floor. I wish I could tell you that I had a routine and went to the gym to make progress. To be honest, I only went to the gym a couple of times all year to “workout” and a few other times for intramural volleyball games. My “workout” wasn’t the most effective thing in the world. I think I benched once in the weight room and I ran around the indoor track a couple of times (and I hate running so you know that didn’t last very long). But beyond that, what was I doing? Nothing.

I was going to the gym because I didn’t know what to do without sports practices and when I got to the gym, I really didn’t know what to do.

I joined the Club Sailing Team during my fall semester, too. Surprisingly, I did this having never sailed before. This was my opportunity to meet new people and learn a new sport – I love a new challenge. Sailing is a sport, but a very different one from the ones I was used to, where I was doing long distance running or sprints.

I gained ten pounds my freshman year with no routine or good habits. For me, the freshman 15 was a real thing, even if it wasn’t the full 15. It’s not that I felt uncomfortable at the gym or that I had no desire to be in good shape. I just didn’t know what I was doing.

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

My Cancer-Free, Ass-Kicking Best Friend… and Personal Trainer

My sophomore year, I chose to live with random roommates. One of these roommates, Gabbi, became my best friend. She was a brave, smart, bubbly girl who changed my life.

Before we moved in to our on-campus apartment, she disclosed to me that she would be missing the first couple days of school because she needed to go to the hospital for her very last round of chemo. Gabbi survived Ewing’s Sarcoma and lived to inspire every person she has ever met. Sure, she had her extremely unfortunate happenings and not everything is perfect, but damn, did she make the best of everything – to me, that’s what it means to have it all.

I learned and developed more positive habits simply from spending time around her. I learned to listen more. I learned to respond not in a quick and thoughtless way, but in a gentle and caring way. I learned to clean up after myself, how to dress well, and most importantly, how to take care of myself. This was a girl who played field hockey for years, was more fit than most girls our age, was driven and determined to conquer everything (including cancer), and started going back to the gym as soon as the doctors finally let her do even the littlest of things.

My fitness story starts here – the cold walks through the fall air at night to get to the gym because Gabbi was going and if she could do it, I was damn well more than able to do it too. She loved a good workout and I loved the post-workout high that followed. I learned to appreciate yogurt and granola, home cooking, and being some of the last people at the gym – but hey, we did it anyway. My eating got better, my attitude got better, my mind got better and I was growing.

My fitness journey started because I was fortunate enough to have a mentor and motivator living with me and dismissing all of my excuses. She didn’t pressure or force me to go. If I made an excuse, she would just say, “Okay, I’ll see you later then” and walk out the door. I decided I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want to not be the best version of myself. 

By the end of sophomore year, I had gained seven more pounds and the scale didn’t matter to me anymore. It still doesn’t, because I know I am strong and capable and those numbers reflected back at me do not define me.

It's so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

It’s so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

Getting in the Groove

My third year of college, I started working at a spin studio, Cyc Fitness, got hooked on it, and incorporated strength training. I worked at the spin studio at least three days a week and was spinning around four times per week – now that provides a damn good post-workout high. Between spin workouts, I would use Kayla Itsines BBG guides periodically, but never fully committed to completing the program.

During the spring semester of my third year, I studied abroad in Barcelona and joined a gym. I would go for a run once in a while, but the gym was located between my school and my apartment, so I had no excuse to skip it everyday. I completed Kayla Itsines BBG program in May for the first time and it felt amazing!

Now, I know I’m only one workout away from a good mood everyday. I feed off the post-workout high on many days. Being back on campus this semester, my routines vary based on my schedule, classes, activities, etc. But I make time for myself because exercise is equally important to me as everything else in my routine.

"Working out" is actually fun!

“Working out” is actually fun!

So, Here I Am

And so now, looking back on that whirlwind of sophomore year and trying to explain it to you – it starts with a thank you to Gabbi, for being my rock. I want to translate this experience into a relatable story because not everyone has a best friend who kicks cancer’s ass and yours in the same year.

The biggest lesson I want you to take away is that I learned I can’t be someone else, but more importantly, that I shouldn’t want to be. I am comfortable and confident wearing my skin everyday. People are meant to motivate and inspire you. Women encourage, support, and challenge each other. Women look each other in the eyes, fearless and inspired.

I learned that the change starts with you. One million people can tell you how to fix something, but it will never start until you want to change it. And your reason for change should be for you because other things may come and go, but you will still be standing. So when you start your fitness journey or need help continuing, know that there is no high so good as the one you feel at the end of a workout, nothing cleaner than the freshness of supplying yourself with the goodness of food and exercise, and no feeling so good as the end of the day when you feel alive.

And so my question to the readers is: what makes YOU come alive?

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#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

 

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Why You Should Try Tabata Training

Tabata? Tiabiata? Ciabatta?  

Let's Do This Tabata

For someone who has been using this form of training for months now, you would think I would at least know how to spell it (lawlz). 

But what exactly is this exotic form of training? What are the uses? Are there multiple forms? Well, let’s break this down!!

What tabata is:

Now if anyone recalls from the story of how I got into fitness, I used to hate any forms of cardio.  In fact, for the longest time I thought it was a myth.

However, when preparation for beach bod season came Let's Do This Tabatainto play, I found this amazing program on bodybuilding.com and the basic idea of the program was tabata.

Tabata, simply put, is just a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Now, HIIT really kicks ass already, and tabata is basically the ultimate form of HIIT. Tabata takes only 4 minutes.

FOUR minutes. Let that sink in.

It consists of 8 total rounds, with each round consisting of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  The rounds are continuous, so one round is followed immediately after the other. 

Now 4 minutes might not seem like a lot, but if you’re doing it right you will feel like absolute toast. (Side note: avocado toast is absolutely bomb and 10/10 would recommend). 

 

A photo posted by Fit University (@gofitu) on

Why it works:

There is some science behind tabata.

Researchers and scientists conclude that those who performed tabata saw increases in both aerobic and anaerobic system capacities. The anaerobic system is the one that does the intense, immediate work. Moderate to low intensity training such as walking on the treadmill only saw improvements in aerobic performance.

Going at this high of an intensity in short intervals will bump your metabolism and heart rate immediately.  With such a high level of intensity, your body will need to work extra hard to keep this amount of work going. Your metabolism will jump up both  during the workout and long after it (sometimes even hours later), helping your body burn fat well after the workout session.

However, if only works if you’re actually going at a high intensity! If your tabata workout isn’t leaving you breathless, you’re probably doing it wrong. 

How to do it:

The traditional view of tabata is to perform one or two exercises for the 8 rounds, but by all means try to switch it up if you’re bored!

These exercises are all great opportunities to try tabata-style training:

  • Incline treadmill sprints
  • Sprints on a stationary bike
  • Speed rowing
  • Mountain climbers, jump squats, and other bodyweight cardio moves

I also like to use tabata for my ab workouts – more as a circuit, where I do multiple ab exercises with the classic 20/10 timing.

So give this style of training a try, and let’s do this tabata!

Check out these workouts too: 

8 Fitness Box Subscriptions You Need To Try

8 Fitness Box Subscriptions You Need To Try

Being a busy college student makes it hard to go shopping. Setting aside our textbooks and notes for even a day is impossible at times. But thanks to all of these companies that have come up with the brilliant idea of providing monthly top quality fitness items, we don’t have to stress anymore.

Below is a list of a few of my favorites that I personally have subscribed to and some that I love what they offer and hope you do too!

1. Gainz Box, $39 monthly* This company provide the best brands for the Crossfit community. They have everything from apparel, mobility, snack, supplements and so much more. When you sign up for Gainz Box, you get 10% off your first box! They provide a monthly, 3 month, 6 month, and an annual subscription. I have personally subscribed to this box and the quality of products is 5-star! It is also a veteran-owned company so that gets an extra star in my book.

2. BarBella Box, $49 monthly*– This box is very similar to Gainz Box except it is more exclusive for women. They have clothing, supplements, mobility and goodies as well. Subscriptions come monthly, quarterly or annually.

3. The Runner Box, $20 every 2 months*– This is great for the runner or want-to-be runner in all of us. It comes with nutrition bars, energy boosters, personal care and running accessories. This company is owned by two women who personally run marathons themselves. They are extremely active and passionate about the endurance community.

4. BuddhiBox, $34.95 + shipping  This company was started by female entrepreneur and yoga instructor, Maxine Chapman. She started the company to share her favorite yogi things and help enhance her students’ practice. Every month, a portion of the sales goes to support a different global charity. They provide fitness items, skincare, and fragrances. You can also buy individual products off the site as well.

 

5. Vull Sports, $53 If you are anything like me, you love athletic wear, and having the cute sports bras and shorts must. Vull Sports sends you a monthly subscription for sports bras. It is owned by a four-time Crossfit regional athlete so she knows what women in the fitness community is looking for. 

6. The Feed, price varies* This company is pretty sweet because you can curate your own box based on what kind of fitness you like!

7. Athletic Foodie, price varies * Owned by Olympic Gold Medalist Garret Weber-Gale, who was diagnosed with dangerously high blood sugar, this box makes healthy food taste great. Weber-Gale wants you to see the connection between what you put into your body and what you get out of it.

8. Paleo Life Box, $35 month* Each month, you get about eight to ten paleo snacks from some of the best companies out there. It delivers monthly, quarterly and bi-annually.

There are so many companies out there that provide this service and these are just a few that I love. It’s so nice to know that at least once a month on my doorstep there will be goodies and lets be honest opening up a package brings out the kid in all of us.

If you get a subscription box, make sure to post it on social media and tag @gofitu and #fituniversity!

Check out these articles too:

What I Wish I Knew About High Impact Workouts

I have two main pieces of advice for girls who want to do, or who are doing, Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide* (or any high impact workout, for that matter): 

1. Have fun.

Don’t take yourself or the guide (especially those transformation pictures) too seriously. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Enjoy the journey, and don’t focus solely on the so-called “destination”, or end result. 

2. More importantly, protect your KNEES.

Our knees are so much more fragile than we think they are. We work them really hard with jump lunges, jump squats, jumping rope, weighted leg exercises, etc.

I used to love these moves because they would help me break a good sweat and contribute to a heart-pumping, invigorating workout. And while they are excellent plyometric exercises, if we are not careful, these moves can do (potentially long-term) damage to our knees. 

I did Kayla’s guide for six months, 3-4 days a week, with a walk, run, sprints, or the elliptical on non-resistance days. Then, I stopped this workout program because of light-to-moderate knee soreness. A few weeks later, the pain started to get very bad. Simple squats hurt, and it wasn’t cute.

After thinking that the pain would simply “go away” (it didn’t), I finally went to a orthopedic doctor. It turns out I have patella tendinitis.

Now, I wear a supportive CoreFlex knee brace when I workout. This is not the worst thing that could have happened, and I don’t need any type of surgery — for this, I’m grateful.

Going forward, though, I plan to be extremely careful with my knee. I’m only 20, and as someone who gets so much joy out of exercise, I do not want to do further damage to this crucial part of my body. Thanks to my newfound love for yoga, I’ve been able to work on strengthening while resting my left knee, but I still get twinges a few times a week.

I ice my leg every night now, and I can no longer do jumping, plyometric exercises or sprinting, which I used to enjoy. Maybe one day I’ll be able to, but definitely not now. 

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

I encourage my fellow fitness enthusiasts and high-impact doers to be extremely careful and loving to those knees of yours. If you don’t experience any knee pain and ensure safe practices when it comes to jumping or other high-impact exercises, good for you! Keep going.

For those of you who do exerpeicne knee pain, I totally get it — it’s so easy to want to fight through the pain because you want to see results, or because it’s “leg day”, or because this set has 30 jump lunges, but you’re only on number 15. 

Let me tell you from experience, though: pushing through the pain will enable you to see results, sure. Just not the kind you’re looking for. Instead, you’ll start to see sharp pains while going up stairs, feeling like something’s wrong in your kneecap each time you walk, and the inability to perform those same high impact exercises without an excess of pangs. 

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

If you ever feel sharp pain, don’t push through it like I did. You can still achieve an amazing workout, get your sweat on, and make fantastic progress in muscle strength by doing lower impact exercises. 

I encourage you to honor and protect your knees — you’ve only got two, and you have a whole life (filled with fitness!) ahead of you to live.

Check out these articles: 

*To read about my experience with Kayla’s BBG guide, read this article. For answers to more questions about BBG, check it out here

 

A photo posted by Hannah (@wholesomelyhannah) on

How To Test Your 1RM (One Rep Max)

If you are new to working out, you may not know what your one rep max (1RM) is. If you’re planning on lifting weights, knowing your 1RM is one of the most important things to keep in mind when designing your workout plan.

So what is an 1RM anyway?

Well, it’s the most weight you can lift with good form for one rep (like, after that you CANNOT lift any more without sacrificing form).

This number gives you not only your training percentage for your strength program, but also a benchmark to improve upon as you progress through your training. Basically, it helps you to see yourself get better. 

It’s possible to find your 1RM on any and all exercises you do, but knowing your 1RM on the most basic and isolated movements (like a bicep curl or tricep extension) won’t really do the trick for creating your training program. Compound movements on the other hand (like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and overhead presses) require a lot more varied muscle involvement. These exercises are where your strength is optimally built. Therefore, these are the ones that are best for finding your 1RM.

How to Test Your 1RM

We’re gonna go through it step-by step. 

If you don’t already know your 1RM, you can calculate a pretty close number by using a calculation software like this one. So going into this test, you don’t actually have to have lifted the heaviest you can for one rep and failed — you can just use the training you’ve done with higher reps to figure out what this would be before testing. By knowing your 5 rep max on a lift, for example, it will figure out roughly where your one rep max might be. From here, you can warm up for testing your one rep accordingly.

If you currently have a one rep max, then you can use this number to warm up accordingly to test your current 1RM.

The Warm Up

Everyone’s warm-up is going to look different as you focus on your preferred mobility exercises. Some people might need more attention on their calves while others may need to focus more on shoulders.

For everyone, though, the warm-up before testing your 1RM should be dynamic (non-static stretching) to warm up for the lift. For a squat or a deadlift, the warm up should focus on hip mobility, ankle mobility and warming up the hamstrings and glutes. A warm up for a bench press or over-head press will focus on shoulder and wrist mobility. Again, all warm ups will be unique to the individual preforming the lift.

After the dynamic warm-up, perform as many warm-up sets as you need without going to failure or wearing yourself out. You want to optimally be warmed up in the movement while working up to your prescribed weight in order to be comfortable in the lift without injury.

Work Up the Weight

Now that you’ve warmed up, you’re ready for some more weight. A sample of how you should load your weight using your sample 1RM from before goes as follows:

30% for 8 repsweights-646496_1920

40% for 6 reps

50% for 4 reps

60% for 2 reps

70% for 1 rep

80% for 1 rep

Attempt 1 at 90-94%

Attempt 2 at 96-100%

Attempt 3 at 100-104%

The percentages used are either based on your known one rep max or 90% of your calculated one rep max. If you have not tested your one rep max before, but used the calculator from above, it is best to do the calculations off of the 90% of your estimated one rep max, because the number calculated is an estimation. You do not want to sacrifice form or risk an injury for heavier weights.

So there you have it! Your 1RM is however much you could do at the end (with or without that 104% increase). 

The Take-Away…

Important notes are that everyone is unique and will go about testing his or her 1RM differently.

Always go off of how you are feeling. If you feel great and want to take out a few warm-up sets, then go for it. If you feel like you can get a fourth attempt then go for it. But always have a spotter when attempting a 1RM.

And NEVER compensate your form. See #2 and #4 of this article for added reasons to be safe when attempting something new. Form and safety is your main priority. 

Lastly, remember that your one rep max is for your benefit in improving on your strength. Don’t compare your number with anyone else’s. You should focus on increasing that number when you retest it in four or more weeks!

Check out these articles too: 

Weight loading based off of Layne Norton’s Ph3 Trainer

8 Easy Costume Ideas for Your Halloween Race

Dress [up] to impress.

The month of October is perfect for running. It’s nice and cool with pretty leaves, and there is a plethora of Halloween races. And Halloween races mean… COSTUMES.

The hard part is finding a one of a kind costume. Whether you’re racing by yourself or with a partner, one of these clever DIY costumes could be what you’re looking for.

8 simply clever ideas for your Halloween race1. Usain Bolt

Be the fastest runner of the race by wearing Jamaican colors (black, yellow, and green) with “Bolt” written on the back of your shirt using iron-on letters, fabric marker, or puffy paint. You can also make a second race tag with “Bolt” in big lettering to pin to your backside instead.

Racing in a group? Everyone pick a country, wear its colors, and you’re instantly track Olympians!

2. Dash from The Incredibles

You can buy an Incredibles t-shirt or you could make your own using stencils and fabric spray. Pair it with black pants/tights and a mask.

Racing in a group? Each person can dress up like an incredible. If there are more than four people, everyone can choose a character from the movie. It will be “totally wicked!”

3. Dory

Just keep swimming running with a cute Dory costume! You can jazz this up in so many ways. Go all out by painting your face blue with your own creative costume, wear a blue shirt that says “just keep running” and pair it with yellow bottoms, or you can wear a blue and yellow tutu with a blue shirt.

Racing in a group? Each person can be a character from Finding Nemo. Your motto? “Just keep running.”

4. Road Runner

This is simple: wear orange bottoms, a blue shirt, and a feathered hat. Jazz it up with a blue tutu.

Racing in a pair? Have your partner wear all brown with some long ears to make an easy Wile E. Coyote costume.

5. Bank Robbers

Run away from the cops in a striped shirt, black pants, and a black hat. Make your own money bag to be even more creative! $$$

Racing in a group? Be a team of robbers! You’ll be more successful than a lone wolf, anyway.

6. Prisoner

Be an escaped prisoner and wear all orange. Add some aluminum foil chains, handcuffs, and dirty your face with makeup to make it realistic.

Racing in a group? Be a gang of prisoners together. Even better, add some cops into the mix!

7. Cat & Mouse

You and a partner can dress up like Tom & Jerry or just a regular cat chasing a mouse. The cat can simply wear all black with cat ears and the mouse will wear all grey with mouse ears.

Racing with more than 2 people? One person can be the cat chasing a bunch of mice, or, switch it around and have multiple cats chasing one mouse!

8. Biker Gang

This is a fun, easy idea for a group of racers! Gather a large group of friends and family who enjoy Halloween and running. Wear black t-shirts with skulls or a group slogan on it, black pants, and black jackets. Add some accessories like bandanas or fake tattoos. Have fun with pre-race pictures by making handle bars out of painted PVC pipes!

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Fun Fall Fitness Activities To Do If You Don’t Want to Work Out

Fun Fall Fitness Activities To Do If You Don't Want to Work Out

Ahh, fall is here, greeting you with the smell of pumpkin spice and crisp leaves.

Though we are saying goodbye to beach workouts and swimming in the pool, autumn provides numerous ways to stay active without stepping foot in a gym. Need some ideas? Keep reading!

Take a hike

With all the beautiful fall foliage, who wouldn’t want to take a stroll? But sometimes you can run into obstacles. Be careful! 😂

Go apple picking

Apples are in season during autumn, so gather up some friends to go to your nearest orchard. Sneak some apple cider doughnuts while you’re at it. 😉

Throw around the ol’ pig skin

As fun as watching football can be, getting up and actually playing with your friends is even better.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Later, you can carve it (hello, forearms), or better yet, wear it like Dwight.

Run a race

Whether it be the Chicago Marathon or a local 5k, get those legs pumpin’.

Let us know if you did any of these activites by tagging @gofitu and using “#fituniversity” on social media!

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Gym Rush Hour Survival Guide

gym survival guide

Back to school means back to your University’s Fitness Center…. that’s PACKED with people.

It’s 6:00pm. Classes are ending for the day and students all flock to the gym like it’s the hottest new nightclub. The back-to-school gym rush at Florida State is always overwhelming, masses of students matched only by the the week before spring break. As an incoming senior and avid gym-goer, I’ve developed key strategies over the years for navigating a packed gym during rush hour. A girl’s gotta keep her pump! 

Here they are:

1. Ask to work in.

I know this is easier said than done. But 99% of the time the person is going to say yes. Empathy is a powerful thing: the other students are probably just as annoyed as you are with the overcrowded gym, and most will gladly allow you to hop in during their rest periods.

Keep in mind, though, that you also have to be friendly and reasonable. If you stand around for ten minutes tapping your foot and rolling your eyes, the person using the equipment is much less likely to let you work in than if you simply approached them with a smile and a polite request. 

Keep gym etiquette in mind, too:

  • Always wait until the person using the equipment is done with their current set before asking to work in. No one, including you, wants to be distracted on that last rep to failure.
  • Be considerate of the weights that the other person is using. For example: I am not going to ask someone who is deadlifting 315 to work in because we would have to un-rack multiple plates between each set, taking up valuable time and energy.

In all honesty, it took me years to feel comfortable asking others to work in. Even now, intimidation sometimes gets the best of me. But I’ve realized that if I don’t ask, I take the risk of spending most of my workout standing around waiting. So just ask– you might even make a friend!

2. Stand your ground

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pressured to finish my sets, incessantly asked, “Are you still using that?” when I clearly am, and even blatantly lied to about another persons use of equipment.  You have as much of a right to finish your workout as anyone else. Don’t give in to gym bullies. 

3. Have a back-up plan

If you come into the gym with a workout plan that you refuse to deviate from, you’re in for a world of waiting. Be flexible. If I start with my heart set on barbell squatting but find that the squat rack line is more than 5 people long, I’ll switch to the Smith machine or hack squat. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it gets the job done and is far preferable to spending an extra hour at the gym because of wait time.

Flexibility is key. For almost every machine exercise there is an equivalent dumbbell or cable variation. If you have an arsenal of alternates for every exercise you had planned, it’s likely that at least one will be available and you will still have a killer workout without unbearably long rest periods.

4. Switch up your training split.

Everyone knows that Monday is international chest day. And don’t even bother trying to secure a squat rack on humpday.

Sticking to a conventional ‘Bro Split’, i.e., chest/tris followed by back/bis followed by legs, will leave you training those body parts on the same day as the majority of other gym-goers. By switching up the order you train each body part, not only will you be amazed at the availability of equipment, but you may even blast through a training plateau.  

5. Don’t contribute to the mayhem.

If you are serious about your workouts, then you know that time spent at the gym is not social hour.

Try not to train with more than two other people, since your group will likely be hogging a piece of equipment for an extended period of time. If you do train with a group, be sure not to stand around idly, chatting it up between sets– especially if other people are waiting.

Even more crucial: definitely don’t spend extended periods of time engrossed in your phone or taking ‘swolefies’ in the middle of a crowded gym floor. Not gonna lie– I love my swolefies as much a the next girl. But I try to be polite about it: I take them in a secluded area or snap a quick photo during my rest period. By paying attention to your phone instead of your surroundings, you are a hazard (and annoyance) to yourself and others. 

6. Always use basic gym etiquette.

Be considerate of others’ personal space, use equipment as it is meant to be used (ie. don’t curl in the squat rack), put used equipment back in it’s place, and don’t be that 1% that refuses to let others work in. 

I hope these tips help you survive the dreaded gym rush hour this coming fall!

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Which Classpass Class You Should Attend, Based on Your Major

ClassPass

So you signed up for ClassPass.

Go you: the whole city is now at your fit fingertips. (If you have yet to sign up, I have good news for you: we have an exclusive Fit U promo waiting for ya right here and guess what? Your first month will only cost ONE DOLLAR. For real.)

You log on, click the class schedule, and immediately pause.

Oh my god. You’re overwhelmed: there are nearly 100 classes on this list. With so many options, how are you ever supposed to decide which class to take?!

Well, never fear: this science-backed, not-at-all-subjective method is foolproof for figuring out which class is right for you.

Here’s what you should sign up for, based on your college major. 

Business: Strength training

These classes will give you all the results you need to feel like Clark Kent (or Lois Lane) under your tailored suit. 

Plus, this is something you can TOTALLY bro about with fellow fitness buffs at networking meetings. Not to mention the networking you could achieve at the class itself. No cardio = no out-of-breath inability to talk to your neighbor. Compare lifts, talk start-ups. Two birds, one stone. (And you’re ALL about efficiency.)

Try ClassPass for $1.

Psychology: Yoga

You’ve studied the benefits of meditation and stretching. You’ve been taught to recommend the practice to your future patients. So if you’re ever stressed about school, work, internships, or just life in general, you know the yoga studio is the place for you. 

English: Aerial Arts

It’s possible you won’t look like this girl on your first day. But you don’t read a classic novel in a day, either; you’ve got the patience and dedication this activity requires. 

You’re all about seeing the world from a new perspective. This class, complete with graceful movements and effective core work, will provide you with all that new perspective you’ve been craving. Added bonus: the focused atmosphere and individual, skill-based style of the class will give you lots of time for internal monologue. 

Engineering: TRX

You’re always up to date with the up-and-coming technologies of the modern day. TRX, used in military training of the Navy, is the newest in affordable and, for lack of a better word, AWESOME fitness technology. 

Whether you look like this: 

or this: 

on your first day is no object to you, either. This class, like many other things in your daily life, is just yet another struggle for which you can just blame physics. 

Pre-Med: HIIT/Cardio

With all the homework and residencies and clinicals and MCATs approaching, you’re not wasting any time. These classes are all about efficiency. 20 minutes of HIIT can reap the same results as an hour of steady-state cardio, and you’ve read the medical studies to prove it. 

Try ClassPass for $1.

Pre-Law: Barre

There’s something you love about taking the old (ballet) and adapting it to fit something new. The same happens with the Constitution and other U.S. laws; you’re (understandably) drawn to the adapted art form. 

With the mountains of dull reading you’re expected to do already, you’ve got patience for the slow improvement in flexibility and core strength. Plus, all of the holds and pulses in uncomfortable positions will give you ample time to work on your resting bitch face.

Finance/Accounting: Gym Time

Time in = time out. You know these cold, hard facts like the back of your hand. 

Gym time means you get to do whatever you want with ALL of the gym’s equipment, for a whole hour. You’re a big fan of crunching the numbers, and that value clearly the biggest bang for your buck. 

Criminal Justice: Martial Arts

One day, you’re going to be face-to-face with the real criminals of the world. For now, though, you get to practice your self-defense skills on imaginary opponents in one of these classes. Plus you’ll get to look and feel like a total badass.

Ok, maybe just feel like one. Maybe someday you’ll look intimidating– once you have the uniform to help you out.

Try ClassPass for $1.

Women’s Studies: Kickboxing

Obviously.

You’re more than ready to get your kickboxing gloves on (especially after you’ve seen how amazing your female strong-woman pop idol, Taylor Swift, looks sporting the gear). 

Kickboxing is all about feeling empowered to defend yourself, and that’s a feeling you love. Unlike boxing, you don’t fight against other people (non-violent protest, for the win). Instead, you practice the moves bodyweight, which is how you would realistically be defending yourself from a situation were you were suddenly endangered. 

Political Science: Cycle/Spin 

The cult-like followings of high-end cycle studios are SO HYPED about the spin studios they attend. Their dedication reminds you of the commitment you’ll one day dedicate to your political party or candidate. 

Plus, these classes can’t help but appeal to your competitive side. Some studios keep track of your ride stats and send them to you after class. Your eyes rave over these charts and graphs like they’re eating up appealing poll results.  

So now that you know exactly what to sign up for, you’ve got nothing to lose. Want to try out any and all of these classes for yourself? Click HERE for a limited-time Fit University promo. 

I Am Not Perfect, And I Am Proud Of That

perfect

I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

My name is Tori Richardson, I am 22 years old and my take on fitness has evolved over many years.

I started dancing when I was four years old. By the time I was 12, I was dancing 15-20 hours a week, and probably even more during my high school years.  I’ve always had a passion for moving and dancing, with or without music. Fitness to me, for a long long time, was dance… sweating and pushing through hours of rehearsals and training was what I loved (and absolutely still do love). I danced on a nationally ranked competitive dance team during high school and once I graduated in 2012, I transitioned to being a dance instructor at a local studio. I stopped competing at the age of 19, and began dancing more recreationally…I was still dancing but not nearly to the extent I was previously.

During this time I was attending the Napa Valley College, working on my gen eds and transfer requirements. I slowly felt my fitness level (i.e. endurance, stamina, strength) decrease over time. My mom proposed the idea of joining a gym, and I said “sure, why not?”

Starting out, we went 3-4 times a week, taking all the general exercise classes because we weren’t exactly “experienced” or motivated to lead our own workout routine. Long story short, these classes were just not doing it for me. After a while they got repetitive and I felt that I wanted something more. So, what did I do? My mom and I signed up for an eight week boot camp program. We loved it. It kicked our ass. And then… the eight weeks ended. I felt completely discouraged by the little results I received from the large amount of effort I gave over the past two months (little did I know this would teach me patience later in my fitness journey).

A short time after the bootcamp program ended, I started working out less and fell into bad eating habits, which led me to weigh the most I have ever weighed. These unhealthy habits continued for a year before I realized it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted to lead. I turned my mindset around, and wanted to go into healthy living this second time with a new outlook on fitness. I didn’t want my second attempt at fitness to be an eight-week short cut to a healthy lifestyle, I wanted it to become my lifestyle. And slowly, it did. I stopped comparing myself to athletes and body builders that had been working out for years and instead, I turned my focus to MYSELF.

 

A video posted by TORI (@toritoofit) on


From that point on, I’ve learned self-love, self-confidence, dedication, consistency, and most of all, PATIENCE are the key to living a healthy lifestyle! There is no quick way to being fit and healthy. Sure, you could go on a crazy diet, lose 20lbs in six weeks and look great. But is that healthy? What about when you stop the diet? What happens when you stop the hard work in the gym and the attentiveness to what you’re eating? This is exactly what happened to me when I started my fitness journey. I lost weight and saw progress but once I hit my goal, I stopped my workout routine and paying  attention to the foods I was eating. Then I was suddenly back to square one. Now, I am in this for THE LONG RUN. I’m in no rush to get a “perfect bod” because fitness has taught me to love the body that I have. My body is the “perfect bod” for me.

When I first started my fitness journey, what I found most difficult was my confidence in the weight room. I obviously didn’t have any strength or experience with weights or machines and this fear of the weight room really hindered me from reaching my full potential. I felt that since I lacked strength, I didn’t deserve to be there. Especially as a woman, lifting just seemed too far fetched. BUT I was so intrigued by it and desired to learn.

After my first fallout in the gym, I came back motivated to grow my confidence, my strength and to become a better version of myself. I got inspired by a popular YouTuber Heidi Somers, AKA BuffBunny. She’s a perfect example of a confident woman who’s proud to lift weights and is an advocate for self-love and girl power. Watching her videos gave me knowledge on how to lift properly and confidently. The most important thing I’ve learned? Don’t compare yourself to others. You can’t, and shouldn’t, compare your first month of weight lifting to another persons third year of weight lifting. I’ve learned to just walk in there, have a plan (most important), and execute it. Narrow your focus on yourself, the weights your lifting, and your progress! Consistency equals progress.

I believe women should be proud of themselves for stepping in the weight room, a place that’s mostly dominated by men. Women can do the same things as men, and I believe we need to change our mindset and embrace the fact that we are beautiful, feminine and we lift. Once I learned to embrace the fact that I was a woman who enjoyed lifting, I didn’t pay attention to what other people might think of my strength. I just did what Tori loved and everything fell into place from there. 

If it is your first time in the weight room my advice for you would be:

  • Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, that is the best way to learn and grow!
  • Go with a friend. Strength in numbers 😉
  • Start with light weights– I know, I know. You’re thinking,”doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” The answer is, NO. You want to learn the exercises with proper technique and once you feel comfortable increase the weight.
  • Consider meeting with a Certified Personal Trainer to help you learn the correct technique- This is important to prevent injury.
  • Finally… chin up, eyes forward and have fun! Life hack: Most of the time when you think someone is watching you lift, they most likely aren’t. Everyone is there to focus on their own workout and growth!  

My fitness journey continues everyday through my daily workouts, clean eating (with the occasional donut), and overall positive well-being. Trust me, I know I’m nothing close to perfect. Some days I’m productive and on track with my fitness goals, and others I don’t mind staying in bed catching up on Netflix for a few hours. Having a balanced lifestyle is what will keep you saneWhat I have learned through my fitness journey, and continue to learn, is that YOU ARE NOT PERFECT – NO ONE IS!

For a long time I thought being “fit” was this magical perfect thing that you could reach. It doesn’t work that way. If you have that mind set, you are setting yourself up for failure. The idea of fit” is different for everyone, and I encourage you to find what being “fit” means to you. Embrace the fact that you are HUMAN and you will be so amazed the things your body and mind can accomplish and conquer. My next step in my fitness journey is to keep killing it in the gym, grow my YouTube channel and start my new journey as a Fit University Ambassador! 🙂 

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The Fitness Motivation You Need to Get Past Your Slump

Feeling Slumped? Motivation Tips!

Whether you’ve been working out for a few years and consider yourself a #gymboss or are just getting started with fitness, everyone has hit their slump.  It could last a day or up to a week, but do not let this get the best of you!  Try these motivation tips to revamp your mind, your body and your attitude about fitness.

Change up your routine.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you changed your workout? A month? 3 months?

Just like your mind, your body gets accustomed to your workouts. Because of this, the gain train might miss your stop after awhile. Though undoubtedly frustrating, this is completely normal. Maybe you’re working out because you’re a college athlete, trying to gain muscle mass, or just trying to stay in shape. No matter your goals, switching things up can only help you improve. Try to spice things up and give a new type of workout a try.

Bump some different tunes.

If you don’t listen to music when you work out, then this does not apply to you – or does it? Before you scroll down and skip this one, think about it: if the way you’re doing it now (silently) is getting dull, couldn’t playing some fun new tunes help?

If you’re lacking on the motivation and there’s no music in the background, consider picking up the headphones. From my personal experience, I get tired of listening to the same stuff over and over again.  For that reason, every couple weeks or so I’ll switch up what I listen to.  Whether its alternative, throwbacks, rap or some house music – switching up the tunes can give your workout a different rhythm and a different mindset.

If you’re not sure what to listen to, or don’t want to spend the time making a playlist, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered

Find a workout buddy (or ditch your usual buddy & go alone).

This is pretty straightforward. If you work alone and the motivation is not there, try and find a workout buddy.  I always find working out with someone will help push and motivate each other to new PRs! 

On the other hand, maybe you’re tired of your buddy (maybe he or she doesn’t show up on time).  Try going alone.  You may need just some alone time with the gym to get in touch with what you really want to be doing and accomplish.

Try going at a different time of day.

I personally prefer the morning to workout out in, but some people may not know what works best for them. If your schedule is flexible enough, try going at different times of the day: it may give you a burst of new energy.

Supplementation

I am an avid believer on taking the right supplements for you to enhance your workouts. For myself, I take Cellucor Cinnamon Swirl Protein (10/10 rating in my opinion), Best Creatine by BPI Sports (if you are unaware of creatine, I highly recommend researching the benefits of this amazing supplement), and ON multivitamins. Do a little research and figure out which ones you want to be taking for your fitness goals (or consult an expert).

The right supplements go a long way in terms of endurance, performance and recovery.

 

A photo posted by BPI Sports (@bpi_sports) on

Take advantage of the summer weather.

Get outdoors! With a little of creativity, the traditional playground can turn into your own outdoor gym. Try a simple routine while you get your tan on at the beach, even.

You can try this bodyweight workout you can do anywhere (Or this one. Or this one.). Just do each move for 30 seconds, then rest for 10-30 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Repeat the circuit as many times as you want.

  1. Pull-ups
  2. Push-ups
  3. Hanging leg raises
  4. Triceps dips
  5. Burpees
  6. Finish off with some sprints

Don’t forget to stretch!

Ditch fitness for a week.

The problem might just be that your body is lacking energy and needs a break. You may just be fatigued. Listen to your body. A rest week can in fact be beneficial every once in a while. Rest up and get some cheat meals in!

 

A photo posted by Fit University (@gofitu) on

Watch Pumping Iron

Then watch it again. Feel motivated?

Feeling Slumped? Try These Motivation Tips To Get Back On Track!

Remember why you started.

To start something is one thing, but the real reason we’re all here is to finish something – to stick with your goals all the way through.

Remember why you started your fitness journey; everyone has their own reasons. What are yours? Like the great MJ once said, “limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”  Get those limits you have in your head out— let finish this.

Pokémon Go

Ha, ha. But for real. Download it. Go on a run and catch some rare Pokémon and hatch those eggs! #TeamMystic4Life

Now that you’re all motivated, what are you waiting for? Go for it! 

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13 Types of Fitstagrammers You See On Your Newsfeed

13 Types of Fitstagrammers You See On Your Newsfeed

Hello, millennials. If you are anything like me, you spend a little bit too much time scrolling through your Instagram feed.

phone

The majority of people I follow are college foodies, fitness junkies, yogis, or just people who have an interest in health & fitness. Recently, I have noticed that these fitstagrammers typically fall into one of a few categories:

  1. The Bowl Queen

“Throw sh*t together and mix” usually doesn’t result in aesthetically pleasing food, but these fitstagrammers make it work – and make it look totally effortless.

The Bowl Queen is closely related to the Smoothie Bowl Artist, who makes kaleidoscope-esque fruit bowls on the daily.

  1. The Powerlifter

These fitstagrammers can lift some seriously heavy weights while maintaining perfect form. Most of their content is video of their killer workouts, but they work so hard you can’t hate them for the occasional flex picture.

  1. The Allergy-Friendly Foodie

Usually swapping out ingredients in a recipe so they can eat it safely, but their food looks twice as good as the original! Mango salsa, anyone?

  1. The Protein Food Porn Fitstagrammer

Fit people can have #foodporn too! The post is never complete without a drizzle or ooze of protein frosting… and macros!

  1. The Diary Writer

c a r b s 🍝 *long post warning* If I was stuck on an island and only had to eat one type of food, it would be pasta with red sauce (with a whole bunch of veggies chopped in there, of course!) 😍 such a great post workout meal- refuels your body and you get the protein (I used ground turkey) you need without supps. Yes that is possible!! Surprise, the fitness industry understands the general population's insecurities and fears and uses that to their advantage. And I know you are better than that 😉 Its important to stay skeptical if you want what's best for your body. Today at the gym (shoulders and arms day woo💪) I saw a personal trainer on his phone on multiple occasions while his client demonstrated poor form on his exercise… then saw a trainer put the weight in the wrong spot, which is a total pet peeve of mine 😲 and these are "professionals" who people pay a lot of money for… 😡 makes me want to be better than them yaknow? As much as I love to complain, it doesn't really get anything done, actions speak louder than words💭 {@barillaus whole wheat penne + red sauce + @jennieo ground turkey + chopped zucchini + onions + carrots + basil} #fituniversity

A post shared by Christina Chu, CPT (@foodietunes) on

SHAMELESS PLUG: guilty as charged, these fitstagrammers do not hold back about telling you how their day went.  Warning: rants and tangents are included.

  1. The Entrepreneur 

If you think being a student is hard, try owning a business on top of that.

  1. The Bikini Competitor

Unflexed vs. flexed because I like to be honest with you all! You can really only see my abs when I flex them and breathe all my air out sorry no permanent chicken nuggets here! I must say though I am proud of myself because when I did that 2 months ago you couldn't see anything 😂 just always be mindful of what you see on the gram or any social media because I am also guilty of showing my highlights 🙃 #npcbikini #npccompetitor #npcbikinicompetitor #pharmacyschool #trainhard #liftheavy #fuelyourbody #foodisfuel #iifym #iifymgirls #iifymwomen #macros #reversediet #flexibledieting #absaremadeinthekitchen #abcheck #fitnessmotivation #fitspiration #motivate #inspirational #flexfriday #unflexedvsflexed #girlswholift #girlswithmuscle #girlswithmuscles #musclegains #weightlifting

A post shared by Z U R I C K | 23 | 5'6 (@taylorzurickfit) on

Typically posing or posting mirror shots, these competitors have washboard abs and chiseled muscles. Fortunately, there are some like Taylor who also show the reality behind their stage bodies vs. their everyday bodies.

  1. The Healthy Med Student

Dinner date with Dr. Dale Dubin ❤️📈 …actually jk I got distracted and now I'm watching Grey's😂

A post shared by Dose of Dinner 💊🍴| PA-S 2 (@doseofdinner) on

        Soon-to-be Meredith Grey’s and Dr. McDreamy’s have to eat healthy too!

  1. The Go-To Trainer

These fitstagrammers speak exercise as a second language. You typically find yourself searching for their page when in need of a new workout.

  1. The Minimalist Foodie

 Usually posting pictures with a simple and consistent background, they make #cleaneats look actually clean.

  1. The Girl-Next-Door

Typically has a mixture of posts- healthy foods, workouts, and lifestyle, including their own. It feels like you know more about them than just their food and/or workouts. They also tend to be the sweetest people when you meet in person.

  1. The Yogis
 

A photo posted by Amanda & Zani (@acroyogies) on

They bend so they don’t break.

13. The Aesthetic Fitstagrammer

How I do taco Tuesday 💁 #Grassfed taco meat, shredded romaine, tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and an #avocadorose 🌹

A post shared by Rachel | Real Food Athlete (@real.food.athlete) on

Effortless and flawless food. They make food that you would make, but theirs looks 1000 times better.

Show us your fitstagram by using the #fituniversity and tagging @gofitu!

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I Had This One Realization About Fitness, & It Changed Everything

Move and exercise in ways that you enjoy. Not how magazines, friends, apps, people on the Internet, TV shows, or celebrities tell you that you “should”. 

During my conversation with health coach & CPT, Cara (of the Balanced Bod) last week, I finally realized something that I had been unwilling to admit to myself.

I had been lifting weights at the gym at Northeastern on-and-off all year. While I certainly liked some parts of this form of exercise, there were other parts I simply did not connect with. It made me feel stressed out to know that I “had” to wake up and lift heavy things first thing in the morning (which is usually my favorite time of day to exercise). Despite these factors, I kept dragging myself to Marino, lifting the free weights, and working the machines.

I felt okay — pretty good, even, but I never could stick with any weight-training program for long, and I didn’t have a feeling of euphoria after these workouts.

This summer, I purchased a membership to a yoga studio (that included a much appreciated student discount), and I’ve gone almost every day. After each class, I feel full of strength, flexibility, and tranquility. For me, yoga is the perfect combination of strength training, core work, stretching, and meditation. I can already tell that I’ve improved a lot (physically as well as mentally) since I started in June. I uncovered that the reason I’ve been able to be so consistent with going to the studio this summer is because I genuinely LOVE yoga.

On my call with Cara, I came to terms with the fact that I was not able to stick with any lifting program for any period of time because I am not wholeheartedly passionate about this type of fitness. At the root of it, I was lifting weights because I had read and heard about the numerous benefits and the reasons why I “should” do it. I listened to those media outlets instead of myself; I became utterly lost and out of touch with my own passions along the way. 

My advice to you is to try every single type of exercise until you find one that you genuinely enjoy and connect with. Reach for that glorious post workout feeling. What’s even better is this: once you discover and choose to practice types of exercise that you love, you’ll naturally start to integrate fitness into your daily life. 

If you like weightlifting, that is wonderful! If you love running, run like the wind. If you enjoy dancing, that’s super cool. Do what works for YOU, and remember that you do not have to do anything for your health that you are told you “should” do. That is all pure bullsh*t. I hope you all go on and have a fantastic rest of your week!

 

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A No-Equipment Park Workout to Try While It’s Still Nice Out

It’ll be a walk in the park. 

Time: approximately 60 minutes, depending on speed

Type of Workout: cardio, core strength

Sh*t You Need: a swing, space to run

Intensity: High

Body Target: Full body

The Workout:

Warm up: 1 mile jog

Cardio:
1 mile alternating jog + sprint
1 mile run
1 mile alternating jog + 10 broad squat jumps
1 mile jog + stop 4 times during jog (1: 20 push ups, 2: 20 leg raises, 3: 20 hanging knee tucks on bar--if park doesn’t have a bar just do another ab exercise, 4: 20 box jumps on bench)

Swing workout: Complete 3 rounds of the following exercises. 
20 knee tucks 
- Find a plank position with your legs on the swing and your hands on the ground. Now slowly tuck both knees beneath your stomach, keeping your feet on the swing.
20 swing squats
- Grab the chains of the swing. Lean backwards, and keep the chains taut as you pull down into a squat. The closer your feet are to the swing, the more work will gone into your legs.
20 pikes 
- From a plank position, pike your butt up into the air so your body looks like an upside-down V. Slowly lower back down to plank position. This completes one rep.

Cool down: ½ mile jog

This workout was contributed by Taylor Glinane (Fairleigh Dickinson University). Check out her Instagram for more. 

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A 20 Minute HIIT Workout for Your Busiest Days

Trust us. 20 minutes is all you need.

Time: 20 minutes

Type of Workout: HIIT, cardio

Sh*t You Need: treadmill, or some space to run

Intensity: High

Body Target: Full body

The Workout:

Complete as many rounds as possible of the following exercises for 20 minutes. 
- Run 1/2 a mile, 7-9 mph**
- 20 squat jumps
- 10 burpees
- 20 skaters
- 30 mountain climbers

**for an extra challenge, add a 5% incline to your treadmill

This workout was contributed by Jillian Wheelan (Northeastern University). Check out her Instagram for more. 

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A Powerlifting Workout ANYONE Can Do

You’ve probably seen the powerlifting team working out in your gym…ever wanted to join in? 

Well here’s your chance. Powerlifting could be just what you need if you are looking for something new to spice up your workout routine. It also could help you if you’re trying to put on some quality muscle mass. So if you think you are ready for an intense workout (and to be pretty sore the next day), then give this beginner powerlifting squat workout a try.

Time: 90 minutes

Type of Workout: Strength and conditioning

Sh*t You Need: Squat rack, leg press, and hip adductor/abductor machine

Intensity: Medium-high

Body Target: Total body

The Workout:

First, warm up by completing 15-25 minutes of dynamic stretching.

The Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps
 
- Find a squat rack, and choose a weight that's right for you. That may be the barbell with plates or totally without. Your body, your squat. You'll know the right weight for you by judging how hard it is to complete one rep. You want to make sure you hit the 5 reps, but it should be challenging to hit all 5. 
 
- If you miss a rep, drop the weight by 10 pounds and make sure you hit every rep on the next set.
 
- Rest time between sets should be around 2-3 minutes to make sure you are properly recovered before your next set. Remember, for this workout it’s all about lifting heavy, so don’t rush it or you could risk an injury.

Leg Press: 5 sets of 8-12 reps
 
- These will be tough after squatting, so go a little lighter on the weight and focus on good, solid reps. Remember to take it slow.

Hamstring curls: 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Leg Extensions: 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Hip Abductor and Adductor Super-Set: 3 sets of 10-15 reps each
 
- A superset is a set with no rest between types of exercises. After you complete the abductors, immediately being the adductors to complete the superset.

Ab Crunches and Russian Twist Super-Set: 4 sets of 15-30 each

Workout contributed by Brandon Lawlor (American International College). Check out his Instagram for more. 

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The Butt Workout That Does Way More than Just Squat

Never skip butt day.

Time: 45-60 minutes

Type of Workout: Strength

Sh*t You Need: Kettlebell, dumbbell, resistance cable, smith machine, hamstring curl machine, glute kickback machine, yoga or foam mat

Intensity: Medium-high

Body Target: Hamstrings and glutes

The Workout:

First, warm up. Stretch/foam roll for 5 min, then complete 10 min of light cardio on a Stairmaster or stationary bike.

Now, get to the strength moves... 
- Bodyweight single-leg side squat: 3 sets of 15 reps, each leg

- Single leg side squats, with 15 lb. dumbbell: 2 sets of 12 reps, each leg (Make sure you get really low! Try and squat so that your thigh is below parallel to the ground.)

- Cable kickbacks using moderate weight: 3 sets of 10-12 reps, each leg

- Kneeling squats with the foam mat under your knees, use moderate-heavy weight: 4 sets of 10-12 reps (squeeze/engage your glutes at the top!)

- Hip thrusts on hamstring machine, use moderate-heavy weight: 4 sets of 10-12 reps (squeeze your glutes at the top!)

- Kick back machine, moderate weight: 3 sets of 10-12 reps, each leg (keep these slow and controlled)

- Hamstring curls, use moderate-heavy weight: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Finish by completing this glute/hamstring muscle burnout:
Single leg kettlebell deadlifts, using a kettlebell of 10-15 lbs.: (keeping your legs straight with a slight bend in your knee) 3 sets of 15 reps, each leg

Workout contributed by Tori Richardson (Sacramento State University). Check out her YouTube channel, Instagram and Twitter for more. 

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Superset Shoulder Workout

7 supersets, 60 minutes. You got this.

Time: 60 minutes

Type of Workout: Strength and muscle endurance

Sh*t You Need: Machines (Smith machine, cables with a straight bar and rope attachment), dumbbells, a jump rope, battle ropes, and a Dynamax ball (or other medicine ball)

Intensity: High

Body Target: Upper body with a focus on shoulders

The Workout:

The following sets are all supersets. This means that you complete the exercises straight through, with no rest between sets. 

Compete 3 sets of the following superset: 
- Seated singe arm shoulder presses on smith machine,  10 reps each arm
- Standing single arm dumbbell press, 10 reps each arm

Complete 4 sets of the following superset: 
- Seated shoulder presses on smith machine (regular grip, wide grip, and narrow grip),  5-10 reps each grip
- Push ups for 5-10 reps

Complete 3 sets:
Land mine squat shoulder press with alternating hands, 20 reps total

Complete 3 sets: 
Shoulder raises with rope cable attachment, 10 reps

Complete 3 sets: 
- Straight bar face pulls, 10 reps
- Bent over rear dumbbell delt raises, 10 reps
- Around the worlds, 5-10 reps

Complete 4 sets: 
- 50 jump rope
- Battle ropes: 10 reps arms together; 10 reps pulling from middle to outer right corners (see video); 20 reps total alternating arm rope slams (10 reps each arm)

Complete 4 sets:
- Dynamax ball slams, 10 reps
- Dynamax ball push ups, 10 reps
- Shoulder taps, 10 taps total

VIDEO
1st clip: Seated single arm shoulder press on smith machine (ensure you get full range of motion)
2nd clip: Standing single arm dumbbell press
3rd clip: The entire circuit of face pulls, rear delt raises, and around the worlds
4th clip: Battle rope circuit beginning with arms together, pulling from the center to upper right direction, and finishing with alternating single arm slams

**Note that almost all the clips are sped up 2X the speed, take these exercises slow and controlled and really focus on that mind to muscle connection!**

Workout contributed by Morgan Smith (University of Florida). Check out her Instagram and Twitter for more. 

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Do This Workout to Boost Self-Love

Move, love, and work your body. 

As college students, we all go through tough times. Whether we’re facing heartbreak from a relationship, stressing out about school, or feeling down about our appearance, it’s normal to lose track of your confidence now and then. Exercising is a great way to get positive, stand back up, and learn to love yourself again.

Enter: the workout that helps you love yourself. The workout boosts your endorphins, the happy hormones, and leaves your body and mind feeling great. 

Time: 3-30 minutes, you decide!

Type of Workout: Circuit workout

Sh*t You Need: Your body and your best foot forward. For an extra challenge, grab some dumbbells and a jump rope.

Intensity: High

Perks: Boosts endorphins, adaptable

The Workout:  

This workout is about speed. So turn your music up and move as quickly as you can through one exercise to the next. 

1. Jump rope (or jumping in place). Try to add variety to your jumps. This could be done by moving side to side, front to back, twisting, or even jumping on one foot. Get fancy with it.
30 seconds total

2. Dumbbell squat jump (or bodyweight squat jump). With your hands or dumbbells by your side, squat down then explode up into the air. As you come down, bend your knees so you fall back into a squat position. This should be a continuous motion.
10 jumps, or 30 seconds total

3. Dumbbell curls (or bicep squeezes). Standing strong, squeeze your biceps as you bring up your hand. In order to work your core stability too, use one arm at a time for this exercise.
12 curls per arm, or 45 seconds total

4. Double-dumbbell triceps extension (or triceps flexes). Standing tall with both dumbbells in hand over your head, bend your elbows down to 90 degrees then straighten them up until their parallel with your body. Focus on really squeezing your triceps through the movement.
15 reps total or 30 seconds total

5. Arnold push press (or bodyweight push press). Standing with both dumbbells in hand facing you at shoulder height, slightly bend at the knees then push up. As you push up, press the dumbbells up and over your head. They should naturally rotate so that your palms face away from your body. As you come back down, rotate the dumbbells to the starting position, and repeat.
10 reps, or 30 seconds

6. Plank position dumbbell pull back (or plank pull backs). These are also known as the renegade row. In a straight plank position, pull back one dumbbell at a time. In order to keep your balance, focus on squeezing your glutes and your core.
8 reps per arm, or 45 seconds total

Workout contributed by Nick Johnson (Purdue University). Check out his Instagram for more.

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Burn Out Your Legs in Less than 10 Minutes

burn out your legs

Finish leg day like a champ. 

This is meant to be a finisher for a leg workout, meaning you will feel completed exhausted both during and after this set. Keeping that in mind, it’s probably not a great way to start your workout if you’re planning on squatting afterwards.

Time: 7-10 minutes

Type of Workout: Strength and conditioning, finisher

Sh*t You Need: Kettlebell or dumbbell

Intensity: High

Perks: Targets legs, quick workout

The Workout:  

10 jump squats
15 goblet squats
Weighted wall sit (with the weight you use for goblet squats) for as long as possible
Bodyweight wall sit immediately after for as long as possible

Repeat 3x with no rest.

Workout contributed by Alec Ceccon (Northeastern University). Check out his Instagram for more.

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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got into Fitness

I love fitness. I look forward to it. I include it in as many aspects of my life as I can. To be honest, fitness is a part of me. It doesn’t define me, but yes—it is a major part of me. Over the past 5 years or so, I have had lots of highs, but also have had my fair share of lows when it comes to my involvement with fitness.

I’ve tried many new things and gone to several extremes; I’ve done many things I am proud of, but also some things I could have easily gone without. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you that where I am now is a place that I love. And, from someone who’s been through it all, I want to share with you the 6 major things I have learned that have gotten me to where I am today.

1. ‘Fitness’ and ‘Health’ do not have set definitions.

They are set by YOU. I started a brand called YouMakeYou® that focuses on this idea. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. What makes you happy might not make me happy. When it comes to your health, you have to find what works for YOU, figure out what YOU want to do, and go do it. You need to not let what others think steer your decisions, you need to not worry about if you are going against mainstream whatever. You are YOU, and this is YOUR life. Define it.

2. Not everyone will ‘get you.’

Building off of number one, you will have people who question you and try to tell you what to do. Ignore them (unless they are a professional and are helping you or trying to keep you safe). If someone is trying to control how you live your life, you don’t need them in your life.   Don’t ever let your ego get in the way of your happiness. Ignore negativity, but also brush it off. It is not worth your time. Accept that some people just won’t get it.

3. Do it for the right reason.

From experience, I can PROMISE you that being a certain size or a certain shape does not make you happier, or more liked, or more popular. It just doesn’t. Decide to find your fitness because you WANT TO. Find it for personal reasons. If you set out on your journey with the intention of satisfying others, making yourself ‘more appealing’, or fitting a standard—you will not enjoy it, you will get wrapped up in worry and dissatisfaction, and you will most likely fall off the wagon or lose your balance along the way.

4. Have fun with it.

If you aren’t, you’re not doing it right. Yes, fitness is not all fun and games: you will have tough workouts. But everything that’s worth doing gets tough sometimes. Forget about the individual days and lifts and runs. Are you, in the greater scheme of things, having fun with it? If not, don’t be afraid to try something new. Try a new type of workout, switch up your routine (try working out outside!), grab a friend, go to a group fitness class… The list goes on. Think about what I have mentioned in the above bullets too: do you have the right motivation? Are you trying to satisfy others before yourself?

 

hi yes 🙏🏻 #YouMakeYou

A photo posted by Colby Triolo #YouMakeYou (@colbytriolo_youmakeyou) on

5. Share your journey.

**Disclaimer: I swear on my jars of almond butter I am not sharing this point because this is for FitUniversity, a platform for students to share their fitness stories, this a personal view. **

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve spent not only working out alone but also refraining from sharing my beliefs, interests, and journey with anyone. I always thought of myself as someone who loved working out alone and doing my own thing, which is true. On the most basic level, I do love doing just that: I feel like I get an awesome workout in on my own terms, it is my ‘me time’, and I just simply enjoy that experience.

 

before I share this workout I want to say I ordered an #almondmilklatte from @dunkindonuts for the first time && it was litralllllllly #nametheshow the best one ive ever had #NotSponsored #Truth 😍 WORKOUT TIME 👊🏻 #TagYourWorkoutBuddy for this #TuesdayChallenge (TAP FOR SOUND) 👉🏼 Find a set of stairs or a stadium, run up a column, do a strength move, run down, Repeat for 30-40 minutes 👊🏻 end with 2 columns of the end exercises: 3 double step jumps, 3 mountain climbers, 3 step up and kicks each leg ✔ ps thanks @sarahjgaines for being my bangin #workoutbuddy 🔥 . #youmakeyou #StairWorkout #IntenseWorkout #OutdoorWorkout #iamfitu #crossfit #summer #partnerworkouts #fitchick #fitchicks #ibleedred #boston #cornell #ivy #weightloss #hiit #harvard #runnergirl #fitfam

A video posted by Colby Triolo #YouMakeYou (@colbytriolo_youmakeyou) on


That being said, everything is better when you have someone to share an experience with. This is completely new to me, but this past summer I have begun doing almost all of my workouts with a partner, or just with someone else beside me doing their own thing. I still get in a #bangin workout and there is the extra umph and accountability that comes from having someone there with me. It adds a really unique dimension to my workouts. Don’t be afraid to try something new and expand your horizons. You will find like-minded people and learn from each other.

 

you’ve got the whole world in your hands 😎🌎

A photo posted by Colby Triolo (@itscool_b) on

 

6. Be proud and happy with where you are.

You will always want more. You will always want what you don’t have. It’s just the way we are. But I want you to put all of that aside and realize: where you are right now? You are there for a reason. You are meant to be right here, right now. Be happy with where you stand currently and embrace it. Stop criticizing yourself for what you’re not and be proud of everything you are. Be proud of the things you have done, rather than focusing on what you haven’t yet. It is O.K. to want to improve, and in fact I often preach the importance of having goals—hello YouMakeYou®. But I just as often preach embracing each step in the journey, because it is there for a reason.


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HIIT the Wall Workout

The great thing about walls? They’re everywhere. Do this workout outside if it’s nice out, or next to a wall inside if it isn’t.

Time: 16 minutes

Type of Workout: HIIT, strength/conditioning

Sh*t You Need: Dumbbell (one heavy, one moderate), interval timer, & a sturdy wall

Intensity: High

Body Target: Total body

Perks: Incorporates both cardio and strength 

The Workout:

Set an interval timer for 24 rounds of 10 seconds rest, 30 seconds work. (This will set you up to complete four rounds, which will take a total of 16 minutes.) 

Complete as many reps of the following exercises with proper form within the 30 second work period. 
- wall plank toe taps
- weighted sumo squats
- wall burpees
- weighted side lunges (switch legs each round)
- dumbbell drag pushups
- wall sit with shoulder raise

 

Workout contributed by Alison Yeung (Boston University). Check out her Instagram, Twitter, and blog for more. 

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This Track Workout is the Opposite of Boring

Explosive cardio, strength moves, and some quick laps in between. This workout is no joke; when you’re done, the track will never seem dull again.

Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour

Type of Workout: running, HIIT, strength and conditioning

Sh*t You Need: A track, stadium, or the open road

Intensity: Medium-high

Body Target: Lower body

Perks: Do anywhere, killer cardio, no equipment needed

The Workout:

First, warm up. Run/jog half a mile, then go through some dynamic stretching.

Now for some sprints: 
- Sprint 100m, 6 times, allowing 30 sec to recover. Make sure to walk for a few seconds to catch your breath after each sprint before stopping movement of your legs entirely.

- Sprint 50 m, 6 times, allowing 30 s recovery between each sprint.

Stadium run circuit: 
Run 2 laps* and then complete a bodyweight exercise (listed below) for 30 seconds. Once you have completed the exercise, immediately begin running another 2 laps, after which you will complete the next exercise. Continue until you have done each exercise. If you want a longer workout, you can complete the circuit twice. 

Round 1: Burpees
Round 2: Air squats
Round 3: Sit ups
Round 4: Push ups
Round 5: Jump rope

*If you are in a stadium, you can run up and down the steps twice instead of 2 laps.

You're done, and you crushed it. Cool down time. Run half mile followed by static stretching.

Untitled

Workout contributed by Halie Schoff (St. John Fisher College). Check out her website and Instagram for more. 

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A 90 Minute Lift to Seriously Work Your Upper Body

One bench, two major muscle groups, three days of soreness when you’re done.

Time: 90 minutes

Type of Workout: Strength 

Sh*t You Need: Barbell and bench, dumbbells, cable machine

Intensity: Medium

Body Target: Upper body (chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, forearms)

Perks: Incorporates both cardio and strength 

The Workout:

Bench press, 4 sets of 8 reps
Barbell bent-over row, 3 sets of 8 reps
Dumbbell single arm row, 3 sets of 8 reps
Low-to-high cable chest fly, 3 sets of 10 reps
Bicep curl, 3 sets of 12 reps

Notes:
*These numbers of reps & sets are a guide. Keep all sets around 2 reps from failure.
 
*Never fail a rep on any set. If you are approaching failure, rack it & choose a lighter weight for the next set.

Workout contributed by Taylor Glinane (Fairleigh Dickinson University). Check out her Instagram for more. 

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