BABY GOT BACK! Part Two, Glute Strengthening Progression

img_2368

YOUR GLUTES ARE LAZY! And the fact of the matter is… it is kind of our own fault. Many of us you have a desk job and sit for 8 hours or more (on your butt) thus atrophying this muscle unintentionally.

Have you ever noticed after a hard leg day with a “booty focus” you are more sore in your quads and hamstrings? This is exactly why. Even for those of us that work our legs as part of a regular routine, weakness through hips and glutes is common. Being seated all day causes the muscle nerve neurons to lie dormant. Then when we go to workout legs or more specifically your booty, your will body recruit all the other muscles to complete the exercise before it will actually get your glutes firing. Every muscle in our body is interconnected and if they aren’t “firing” in the right sequence then other muscles will pick up the slack.

So let’s paint this picture, it is Leg Day (my personal favorite of the week.) HELLO BOOTY GAINS! Planning your workout you have a killer day that of course includes HELLA HEAVY squats. That will get that booty to grow right? Well sure… it would if your body was actually firing correctly but for many of us that is not the case. So what actually happens is this…

You get to the bar, you load your weight and as your drop into your squat (Yes, even with perfect form) your weak glutes can’t stabilize your pelvis. This puts strain on your lower spine. Since the lower back is being forced into doing the hip-extending job of the glutes, you injure your back. And this is just the beginning of where these injuries and overcompensation can lead. Not to mention, you are not getting the desired aesthetic effects of that hard work.

Never fear! This is what I am here to help you with! Workout progression safely and effectively to actually activate your glutes, build strength and ultimately achieve the body you are working so hard for.

It all starts with…

GLUTE ACTIVATION!

Some of you may already know my counterpart, business partner and best friend Honestly Kelsey. Last week she broke down the importance of warming up your Glutes prior to a workout to get them firing on all cylinders BEFORE actually hitting a workout. If you missed it, check it out here! You will definitely want to use her routine to warm up before getting moving in any sort of strength routine.

With the warm up AND moving through the strength workout you will need one piece of equipment, Hip Circles! Hip circles are basically highly durable resistance bands that create additional tension and resistance when used properly. WARNING: all hip circles are not created equally and if you get the wrong ones they bunch up on your legs encasing them like sausages and cutting off the circulation to your knees. OK so maybe I am being a little dramatic, but seriously you want to find ones that will be comfortable for you. We have founds ones that we really like, created by Victorem. These come in a package of THREE, with different levels of resistance, which is perfect when it comes to leg and glute training! Plus they can be easily purchased on Amazon AND they are comfortable, no sausages here! Check them out! Victorem Hip Circles – Set of 3 Trust me, your glutes will have no choice but to stay engaged throughout your workout now!

So you got the warm up down, but how do you continue to progress safely and effectively through the strength portion of your leg and glute training routine while using this new type of resistance (AKA your hip circles) and the benefits of doing so…

BENEFITS

  • Bands challenge your muscles by creating resistance in multiple directions.
  • In order to maintain the correct movement patterns for each exercise your body works to stabilize against the resistance. (This is how we begin to work the correct muscles. Movement patterns!)
  • Increased strength & muscle stimulation in the actual targeted muscle group
  • Stabilizer & support muscles often neglected during traditional strength training are activated and used
  • Increased load without injury!

Resistance bands might not seem as satisfying as hearing the clanking of weights and iron but don’t let that deter you! From the warm up alone you should know resistance bands are no joke.

CHANGING THE LOAD

In traditional strength training, adding more to the “load” of a movement or more weight is the typical progression to build strength and muscle. We think the more weight our body can bear, the more our muscles will grow. But remember, most of our bodies are not firing, as they should. So do you really think adding more resistance is the way to go? Let’s think back on the Squat rack scenario from above.

Instead, what if you added the hip circles to your squat and maybe even lightened the load. What does this do for your body?

By using a combination of free-weight with additional band resistance at the same time, (or maybe even just the band!) you can overload the whole range of motion. Bands increase resistance as they’re stretched, so as you reach the finishing part of the movement you will have to recruit more muscles. If you are simply using free weights or a bar, the greatest part of the load is in the initial portion of the movement only stimulating your muscles for half of the rep. Now all the sudden adding a resistance band, you are stimulating your muscles all the way through the entire exercise.

How to implement this into your next leg workout!

Try this technique the next time you are training leg with your larger movements such as squats (bar bell or dumb bell), leg press and hip bridge. For each set you will complete three phases of the exercise. Complete 3 full sets of each exercise.

Phase One: resistance is provided with both resistance bands and free-weights

Phase Two: Remove Band and use only free- weight

Phase Three: Remove free-weights and use only the band as resistance

Using this technique or simply adding resistance bands to your strength routine is going to CHANGE the way your body feels, moves and grows! So get out of the desk chair and let’s do it!

Have more questions? Want to learn more? Follow my blog, reach out to me, lets be friends!

Totes,
Amy

How to be RELENTLESS: A life lesson

 

img_2339

WARNING: I am on my motivational soap box today! You can thank an amazingly inspirational conversation with an amazingly inspirational dude.

Bamboo is known for its unique growing pattern. Once it is planted, it has to be watered every day. Waiting for some sign of life days, weeks and months go by. Nothing. One year passes, nothing. Year two, three, four… and still nothing. Then in year five the most amazing thing happens. You wake up and see a small bamboo sprout. The next day it grows a little bit bigger and within 6 weeks this little sprout will shoot up to 90 feet tall.

When you really stop to think about the goals and achievements made in life or those that you left to the wayside and given up on… how often have you felt that way in the process? Putting in work, making moves every single day and cultivating what seems like nothing.  In a world of immediate satisfaction, immediate results are expected and without that we see immediate failure. To a fault we have created an unrealistic standard that we hold ourselves and others to. Not every goal will be reached immediately. Not every achievement will be made overnight. This is reality.

But what you can do is water the bamboo every day. Cultivating and growing roots below the soil. Building a strong unseen foundation to be able to sustain new life as it grows out of the ground. Do you think 90 feet could be sustained by shallow roots? Hell no!

What is your biggest goal right now?

Can you stay focused and continue to believe in what you are doing without immediate results?

The answer is yes. Yes you absolutely can. But you have to be relentless.

You have to move beyond self-doubt, judgment from others, lack of knowledge, negative feelings such as being overwhelmed, disappointed and ultimately resist the urge to give up and return to what it familiar and comfortable.

NEWS FLASH PEOPLE big ambition is OK!  Don’t minimize ambition or goals because the path to get there may be long, uncertain, uncomfortable and at some points seeming to go nowhere.  If it is a REAL ambition or a REAL goal, own that shit! Lack of motivation to achieve a goal and to be persistent comes when your ambitions are half ass. You kind of want it and you kind of don’t. So you “water” it sometimes and then sometimes you don’t. Well this is when your bamboo sprout dies. I am not saying it is easy to take actions everyday towards something knowing it could take FIVE years to sprout, but if you have not allowed yourself to fully own your ambition and take hold of it  then you could be missing on the most remarkable breakthroughs in your life.

So today’s life lesson… be relentless, water the bamboo and wait for your moment. Own it. Your ambition is never too big unless you tell yourself it is. Be diligent in your goals and what you’re trying to achieve because although it may seem as though nothing is happening in a given moment, everything is actually happening. Your future self is being cultivated below the soil, ready to sprout.

Totes,

Amy

PS. See the Share button under here? Please share if this helped you. Follow me if you want to be friends forever! I am promise I am fun! It will be a good time!

Thirty

img_2280I turned 30 this past April and I would have to say over the course of this last year I have grown into myself more than any year to date. For some reason turning thirty was the permission I needed to not give any (well you know what I am about to say)… about what others think about me. Not that I turned into an a-hole, I just started to prioritize myself. It started with a month-long trip to Bali, Indonesia and will to be closing out with more self-reflection and learning than I have ever done. Also turning thirty has made realize I really am an “adult” and my priorities and lifestyle have shifted significantly since I was in my early twenties.

I value my sleep and early mornings. I swear my mind works better in the morning. I have more energy and I am unstoppable until about.. 8pm. Then my brain shuts down and it is time to unwind. While I love my adventures, most nights I would rather have a one on one conversation with a friend (yes that includes the weekend) than going out to a bar to party. If I am being honest having a few drinks gives me a hangover for 3 days! As much as I love my IPA’s totally not worth it. These are the surface level things, as you and I become friends I will start to share what is REALLY going on in that head of mine.

But as I sat down to write this morning I thought… what if all of these changes we actually BECAUSE I am thirty. Literally, a biological change in my body because I am getting older. In my bit of research I found some really interesting information and who doesn’t like to learn. So I am sharing it with you all!

BE WARNED I AM ABOUT TO GO A LITTLE “SCIENCEY” ON YOU.

As I mentioned above, my optimal time of day is definitely in the morning. I wake up and I am ready to go for the day. Energy is good, mental clarity is on point, ready to get after the day. If I think back to the twenty year old version of myself. If I was sitting try to write this blog post at 7:38am, I would be bleery eyed, on the struggle bus, wishing for nothing more than to crawl back into my bed until noon. It turns out this is actually because of the what is happening internally in the body at different ages because of circadian rhythms.

Do you know what circadian rhythms are?

Circadian Rhythms the physiological, mental and behavioral changes that happen within the body on a 24-hour time clock. According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences this is affected by environmental cues: sunlight, darkness and temperature. Digging a little deeper circadian rhythms influence sleep/wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other functions and get this… THEY CHANGE AS WE GET OLDER!!

What is happening internally throughout the day?

In the morning… as light starts to creep across your bed (maybe not so much in Oregon right now) the brain sends signals to raise your body temperature and produce hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol can be produced in response to stress or in this case with Circadian Rhythms. In the morning cortisol helps give energy, which decreases as the day goes on. Also in response to light (again not always in Oregon, but we are on the 24 hour cycle so your body knows it is morning) the brain delays the release of other hormones such as melatonin, which is associated with sleep and produced when we are exposed to darkness. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and stay elevated throughout the night, thus helping you sleep.

OK so what am I getting at with all this hormone, light and dark science mumbojumbo?

Basically based on circadian rhythms which are affected by age there is an optimal time to be doing all things in our lives: sleep, waking up and even having a drink!

I am going to quote this directly from an article I read….

“As we get older, the melatonin in our bodies starts decreasing, so we wake up earlier and earlier. The change begins in our thirties. A study from Paul Kelley and Oxford University states that the ideal wakeup time when we’re in our twenties is 9:30 a.m.; in our thirties, 8 a.m.; in our forties, 7:30 a.m.; in our fifties, 7 a.m.; and in our sixties, 6:30 a.m. This means, of course, we need to adjust our bedtime to match our wakeup time to get the rest we need.”

YES! My hypothesis is correct: thirty baby! Although according to this I am apparently on a sixty year old time clock? We will blame this on working often at 4:30am. And as far as the bedtime goes, I am still working on that…

So now knowing all this, when is are optimal times to work, exercise, drink…

Work & Focus: Our ability to focus and perform are also affected by circadian rhythms and the best time to start working is about 2.5-3 hours after waking up. So my thirty year old peeps… doesn’t this make sense? You go workout first thing in the morning, have breakfast  and at this point in the morning you have surpassed the fogginess stage and can start your day with mental sharpness and energy!  This is not the same for our twenty year old selves. Remember the optimal time to wake up at twenty is 9:30am. This puts them at almost noon for optimal work time. Man, our society isn’t doing us any favors here. Work and school times start WAY too early.

Exercise: According to the research done, the optimal time to work out is four hours before bedtime. This is at our peak strength and lung function. In your thirties, this is around 7 p.m.; in your forties, 6 p.m.; and in your fifties, around 5 p.m.

Now not that I don’t agree with what is happening internally (I can’t argue with the science of the body) however what I can argue with is my own personal motivation and exercise “threshold”. I can guarantee if it hits 1 pm the likelihood of making it to the gym decreases every minutes significantly until I probably am not going to hit the gym. So while the times above may be “optimal” getting in the  actual exercise is more important. Sorry science I am sticking with the morning.

Drankkkkss: As we get older, our liver function decreases. (And this explains my 3 day hangovers! GOD I LOVE SCIENCE) If you’re going to enjoy an adult beverage, try to do so at your peak liver function, which for most ages is at least 4 hours before bed. This gives your body time to process.

It looks like that 4 hour window before bed is busy for your body…  optimal exercise time or happy hour with friends? Hmm….Think on that one… Until next time…

Totes,

Amy

PS. See the Share button under here? Please share if this helped you. Follow me if you want to be friends forever! I am promise I am fun! It will be a good time!

Creature of Habit…

Sitting down to write this post I am literally laughing at myself. I decided to look up the meaning of “Creature of Habit” on Urban Dictionary… And I am wondering, does this make me a monster of habit?

Someone who develops (generally inadvertently) a set pattern of doing the same things during a certain time period of the day, week, etc.

The opposite of someone who is spontaneous or has the ability to exhibit spontaneity.

Maybe some of you out there can relate. I walked you through my regular morning routine… clearly…HABIT… analyzing the rest of my day… also HABIT… I really am kind of boring. But not boring in a bad way, just boring in the way that I know what I like and I stick to it. This is no different for what I put in my mouth. I know you are shocked! I can seriously eat my favorite things OVER AND OVER! Sometimes I go months and months without changing the foods that I eat at home. UNTIL… dun… dun… dun…the one day that I am completely over it. When that day comes the whole process starts all over.

My habit starts when I grocery shop. I don’t need a list, I can grab and go without thinking twice or wondering if I forgot something. Weekly food prep is down to a science and I can finish it in an under two hours for my entire week. SAY WHAT? (No, food prep doesn’t have to take up your whole life.) The least amount of cooking I can do during the week, the better! Simplify to be successful, this is definitely my meal prep mantra (and maybe a slight bit of laziness). But really… ain’t nobody got time for a nightly Iron Chef episode!

I want to share with you guys an easy dinner that I am currently addicted to. Even if you are not making it beforehand in meal prep, it still only takes about 10 minutes, not to mention it is delicious! This is my kind of dinner! This cauliflower fried rice has six ingredients, unless you feel like getting fancy, but if that is not a thing you and it is definitely not a thing for me currently then here we go…

Amy’s Amazing Cauliflower Fried Rice Deliciousness

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/2-1 tsp. Ginger (to your taste)
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos
  • 1 bag Riced Cauliflower Medley
  • 1 whole egg scrambled
  • Optional ingredients: sesame seeds, green onion, cashews and additional protein source!

Heat saute pan on medium high, spray with non stick cooking spray, (I use coconut oil spray). Allow pan to heat add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes for about 1 minute, until garlic becomes aromatic. Add Cauliflower medley saute for 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is slightly browned. Scramble egg and set aside. Once cauliflower is ready add coconut aminos and cook for an additional minute. Add egg and stir until cooked through! Top with green onion, sesame seeds, sriracha and your favorite protein source (I love to add chicken or shrimp!) for a completely balanced, macronutrient friendly meal! Viola!

Yes it really is that easy! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! If you try it, comment below and let me know your thoughts!

Totes,

Amy

PS. See the Share button under here? Please share if this helped you. Follow me if you want to be friends forever! I am promise I am fun! It will be a good time!

 

 

So the blog is finally happening…

It is 8am on a Saturday, which also happens to be one of my favorite mornings of the week and I am doing this thing, finally starting my blog and I am pumped about it. This is ONE of two days that I am able to have to slow morning. Girlfriend right here has a busy life, which if you don’t know me… Hello there! I am Amy- rocking business owner of HellaBella Athletics, trainer at Orangetheory Fitness, collector of hobbies, passionate about health & fitness and lover of all things friends, family, art and travel. This is me in a nutshell, but if you stick around you will obviously learn more. Not to mention I will also be including all my favorite wellness, fitness and life tips that will hopefully help you in your journey as well. So let’s be friends! Follow me, you won’t be disappointed. Your welcome in advance.

So back to my slow morning… and my coffee and now my blog… in that order of course. Ok wait… one more important side note…I LOVE my morning coffee. That is part of my morning routine that is always included. I preset my coffee pot to ensure it is ready as I am walking down the stairs in the morning. Because let’s be real if I am waking up at 3:45am to go coach an Orangetheory class there is no way I am going to be making my coffee at that hour. Aside from that fact that it literally will get me out of my bed to hear the gurgle of my brewing coffee pot and the smell as it starts to drift up my stairs.

coffee-meme-59da2a6075d44

My morning routine is like Christmas. I look forward to it every night as I am going to bed, whether I get a slow morning or not it completely affects the way the rest of my day goes. It is a small part of the day that is all mine. If you don’t have a morning routine, now might be a good time to find something that works best for you. Studies have shown that wildly successful people have a very specific morning routine. Your inital actions lay the foundation for your day. It is the beginning of the New Year and picking up a habit that can help you be more successful is only a positive thing. Your morning routine might be different from mine, but find something that works for you and stick to it!

As you might guess mine starts with the coffee, but honestly it is not the need for caffeine that drives me to get my butt out of bed, it is the comfort in the sound, the smell, the quiet kitchen, the humming of my refrigerator and the gurgle of the pot that calms me. I spend my morning in quiet reflection and gratitude for the healthy body I live in and set my intention for the day.  I don’t turn on music. I don’t listen to podcasts and because I live by myself I don’t generally talk to anyone (although some mornings I might talk to myself). I just sit in my thoughts and plan my day. An amazingly successful friend of mine shared with me a habit of hers that I adopted at a time in my life when tasking and checking things off my list was extremely overwhelming. The to-do list never seemed to end and because of that I ended each day feeling unsuccessful. Do you ever feel that way? Now this is what I do instead…

Pick 3 things that I want to accomplish during the day. These things can be big or small. Personal or work related. It doesn’t matter, but I know that at the end of my day if I have accomplished those 3 things then I am where I need to be. I am also someone the loves to check things off a list. So I physically write these 3 things in my planner (yes I still have an old school planner!) and check them off during the day. Oh the sweet satisfaction!

Take care of me first. No this is not selfish. This is smart. For me, this changes depending on how much time I have in the morning. Some mornings I journal, some mornings I simply make my list and meditate while I am eating a delicious and nutritous breakfast, but the most important thing that I STOPPED doing was working. My computer and emails do not come out until I take what I need first. I love my job. Helping people is my heartbeat, but if I am not taking care of me then I can’t do that to the best of my ability. What do you do for YOU first thing in the morning?

Move. Morning workouts are my Jam! If I am not coaching at OTF in the morning, getting in workout refreshes and energizes me for the rest of the day. If I can’t workout in the morning, coaching does the same thing for me. I pick up on the energy of my classes and use that to get in gear  and I feel energized and focused on the day ahead.

So there you have it, my morning routine. If you have a routine all ready I would love to hear about it! Adopting pieces from others that work well can only make your routine that much better! Until next time…

Totes,

Amy

PS. See the Share button under here? Please share if this helped you. Follow me if you want to be friends forever! 2018 is going to kick ass, so let’s start this journey together.