Workout: dumbbell complex + video

April 17, 2017
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Dumbbell complex workouts are a great way to improve strength and conditioning. They’re ideal if you (1) don’t have a lot of time, (2) want to fit in an intense workout, or (3) only have access to a limited amount of equipment and space. Dumbbell complex workouts are performed like a traditional strength circuit, however, the transition between movements is much quicker. There is no rest between exercises, but you should include a short break (60-90 seconds) after each round is complete.


The fitness center at our resort in Mexico was rather small and outdated. There wasn’t much equipment available to use and it got busy in the morning, making it feel cramped with only a handful of people there. Matt came up with this dumbbell complex workout for us to do and I loved it so much I had to share with you guys. Be warned: it is MUCH harder than it looks! All you need is a small amount of space and a pair of dumbbells. I used 15# DBs for this, but use whatever weight you feel is challenging yet safe. Remember, this workout moves fast so don’t be overzealous with your weight!


For this workout, perform 8-10 reps of each exercise in order (1-5). Do not rest until you have completed all five exercises. Take 60 seconds to recover before starting the circuit over again. Complete up to 6 rounds. The workout should take no more than 20 minutes.


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I’ve included a short video of me performing each exercise in case you wanted a visual refernce. I’ve also included a written description of the movements below. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my video blooper when Madison decided to crash the scene. This happened several times so this video was the best of the bunch.  Keep in mind: the video only shows each exercise once, but for the actual workout you will complete 8-10 reps of every movement before moving to the next. For example, you would do 8 renegade rows to push ups and then 8 squat thrusters.



Exercise descriptions

Renegade row to push up: In a plank position with your hands on dumbbells (instead of the floor) perform a low row on each side. After completing a right and left row, perform a push up with your hands still on the dumbbells. This equals one rep. Be sure to keep your core tight and avoid rotating your hips. Try to keep the movement just in your arms.

Squat thrusters: Holding a dumbbell in each of your hands, bring the weights down to the ground and then jump back into a plank. Quickly jump back up to the top and stand up (still holding the dumbbells). You’re essentially performing a burpee holding dumbbells.

Squat to dumbbell curl to overhead press: Stand with feet at shoulder-width apart. Squat down and tap the dumbbells on the floor. Stand back up and curl the dumbbells up and press over your head. Slowly lower back down and repeat.

Bent over rows: Stand in a slight squat with your back flat and the dumbbells at your sides or slightly in front of your body. Perform a low row with both arms, pulling your shoulder blades together. Be sure to keep your shoulders from creeping up towards your ears.

Romanian dead lifts: With your knees slightly bent and your feet close together, lower the dumbbells down in front of your legs. Be sure to keep them close to your body. Reach slightly below your knee and use your hips and glutes to pull yourself back up. Bring your hips forward at the end.

Please let me know if you have any questions!



5 tips to stick to your weekly workouts

March 15, 2017
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Hey guys. The weekend is just about here! If you’re currently dealing with Mother Nature, I hope you are staying safe and warm. Spring will be here soon, my friends!


I’m often asked how I continue to motivate myself to workout on a regular basis and commit to exercise while juggling kids and work. While I believe it has a lot to do with making fitness a priority, there are other factors involved with maintaining a focus on fitness. Today I’m sharing some of the ways I’ve learned to commit to my weekly workouts and stay motivated to exercise.


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1. Plan, plan, plan!

Every Sunday I spend some time reviewing my calendar for the week ahead. Since I am old school, I  use my Kate Spade planner to keep track of all my appointments. In addition to scheduling my work commitments, school events, and personal appointments, I make sure to plan my workouts for the upcoming week. While I typically stick to the same schedule/classes, sometimes I will have a conflict and need to restructure my days so that I can squeeze in a CrossFit class, home workout, or a run. But I have found that I am MUCH more likely to stick to my weekly workouts if I take some time to plan in advance.


2. Pay (and sign up) for classes and training in advance.

This works really well if you plan to attend group classes during the week. Most studio around here fill up fast and you need to sign up ahead of time to secure your spot. This has the added benefit of keeping you accountable since there is often a penalty or fee for cancelling within a certain window of time. Additionally, if you have a gym membership or a personal trainer, paying for both up front will keep you committed. I wouldn’t want to waste money on an unused gym membership and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to lose a training session.


3. Block the time on your calendar.

I can’t stress this one enough! Schedule your workouts ahead of time and treat them as you would any other appointment. Try your best to keep every appointment you make. Of course, things come up and you may need to miss a workout here or there, but your scheduled time should be valued in the same way as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. And if you have the time blocked on your calendar then you are more likely to honor that appointment.


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4. Find friends and coaches that will keep you accountable.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to workout on your own, try to partner up with friends, family, or colleagues. Personally, if I know others are relying on me then I’m less likely to skip. Similarly, I know that my CrossFit coaches would start to notice if I did not show up for my usual classes (I hear that’s pretty typical in the community). Having trainers/coaches who will keep you accountable (and lay on the guilt!) is great for motivation and encouragement.


5. Practice gratitude.

It’s easy to take movement for granted. Sometimes we get caught up in a routine and forget how fortunate we are to be active. I’ve been injured numerous times, and at one point I was told I would probably never run pain-free again. All that has changed for me and I’ve been able to workout and run on a regular basis (and pain-free) for quite a while now. Sometimes I still get emotional while running when I look back on those days when I couldn’t do anything without pain. I try to remind myself that movement is a gift and to remain deeply grateful for what my body can do.

You might also like:

Making time to exercise

Fitting in exercise when you have children

The best way to stay motivated




#MotivationalMonday: 30 minute circuit training workout

February 12, 2017

Hey there! Happy Sunday, friends. I know I’m a day early with this post, but I wanted to send it in advance in case you wanted to give it a try tomorrow.


One thing that helps me stick to my planned workouts for the week is to try to never miss a Monday. I find that if I start my week off with a workout then I’m more likely to continue with the positive momentum. Plus, if things come up during the week and I need to miss a day here or there then I don’t stress about it.


Today I’m sharing a quick 30 minute circuit you can do anywhere. It’s sure to get your booty sweating and your heart rate up. The great thing about this circuit is it’s totally customizable. If you only have 20 minutes then just do two rounds. If you’ve got more time, then go for the full 30 minutes. Just find some floor space and set a timer (I like the Gymboss app because it’s free and you can play music directly from iTunes) and GO!


A few notes:

  • This is meant to be a high intensity interval workout. The 45 seconds “on” should be a max effort followed by 15 seconds of complete rest.
  • If you are unable to do any of the exercises then feel free to modify the movements (i.e., push ups can be done on your knees, switch jumps can be walking lunges, etc.). Do what’s right for you.
  • Talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.


Wouldn’t this be a fun partner workout? Find your sweetie or your best workout bud and get moving together!




Want more bodyweight exercises? Check out my workout page!

6 essential do-anywhere stretches

January 18, 2017

Morning! Happiest of Wednesdays to you all. I hope your week is going well. I don’t know about you, but after all the holidays and snow days, I am ready to get back into a normal routine.

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I have a great post for you all today. I was asked by a reader to share a quick and effective stretching routine that can be done daily. In this sequence, I’ve focused on stretches that are ideal for counteracting all the time we spend sitting at the office or driving back and forth from work, school, etc. I’ve included several hip and chest openers as well as some neck and shoulder work. These stretches can be performed at any time and should take you no more than 10 minutes tops. I’ve included descriptions below and some additional guidance below. Please let me know if you have questions!


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Stretch focus areas:

  • Hip flexors
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Upper back
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Calf


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#1 Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Targets: hip flexor/psoas and quads

How to perform:

  1. Kneel on a mat or soft surface and bring one knee up, placing your foot flat on the floor. Extend the opposite leg behind you with the top of your foot touching the floor.
  2. Shift forward slightly until you feel a good stretch in your hip. Be sure to contract your glutes and tuck your pelvis under. Hold this position for 60 seconds. If you feel comfortable doing so, extend your arm on the side of whatever knee is down up into the air. Your bicep should be close to your ear.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

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#2 Figure-4 stretch

Targets: hips, glutes and piriformis

How to perform:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your right leg up and cross it over your left leg, bringing the right ankle to rest on the top of the left knee.
  3. Loop your hands behind the hamstring of your left leg and slowly lift your leg off the ground, pulling your leg closer to your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in your glutes and hips.
  4. Hold for 60 seconds and then switch sides.

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Figure-4 can also be done seated in a chair or standing. Use caution when performing this stretch and only go as far as you feel comfortable. Nothing should hurt.

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#3 Standing lat stretch

Targets: Latissimus dorsi and upper/lower back

How to perform:

  1. Stand a few feet away from a railing or bar with your feet hips-width apart. Place your hands on the bar and slowly lower your torso down, pulling your hips back until you feel a good stretch in your lats and upper back.
  2. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

* Note: you can also perform this stretch while holding on to the straps of a TRX.

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#4 Wall pec stretch

Targets: chest/pectoral muscles and shoulders

How to perform:

  1. Place your hand on a wall or the inside of a doorway and slowly rotate your torso in the opposite direction.
  2. Be sure to keep your extended arm level with or above your shoulder.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly release.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

* This stretch is great for improving posture and fixing internally rotated shoulders.

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#5 Neck stretch

Targets: neck and upper back

How to perform:

  1. Place your right hand on top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the right. Using very gentle pressure, encourage your head to go a bit deeper to the right side. Bend your left arm behind you to isolate the stretch even more.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides, repeating the same sequence on your left side.

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#6 Calf stretch

Targets: calf muscles, hamstrings, and hips

How to perform:

  1. Place your hands on a wall and extend one foot slightly behind you.
  2. Keeping your feet planted on the ground, lean forward slightly.
  3. You should feel a good stretch in the calf muscle of the leg that is extended behind you.
  4. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

* This stretch can also be performed on stairs by placing the front half of your feet on the step and letting your heels drop down to the ground.


I hope you enjoy these stretches. Please let me know what you think!