Back And Core Workout – April 2015

This is a workout I did the other day. I was pleased with how well it worked and how efficient it was. It did not take too much time, but I definitely felt a great pump and was sore all over the next day. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

Model: Alec Varcas
Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.

Working Sets:

  • 1. Superset 1: 4 rounds
    • 3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each. (10 reps at heavy, medium, then light weight)
    • 10 raised shoulder push-ups
    • 45 second hollow hold
    • 1 minute rest
  • 2. 50 reps of Lsit pull-ups
    (10 sets of 5 with a 30 second rest)
    • 3. Superset 2: 3 rounds
      • 15 reps of rear delt flyes
      • 1 minute side plank on each side
    • 4. 5 sets of farmer carries
      • 5. 10 handstands until failure
        • 6. Stretch
          • TIPS:
            1. For my moderate intensity cardio, I decided to walk at 4.0 speed on a 7.5% incline on the treadmill for 30 minutes. This burned a little over 300 calories.
            2. When I say “3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each,” start with a heavier weight and do 10 reps of seated rows. Immediately after, lower the weight and do another 10 reps, and then lower it one more time and do another 10 reps. You will do 30 reps total during this drop set, and eventually end up doing 120 total after you do the 4 rounds of that super set. I ended with doing 120lbs, then 80 lbs, then 40 lbs.
            3. During the “50 reps of Lsit pull-ups,” you can break them up however you want. I did 10 sets of 5 reps with a 30 second rest in between each set. Also, during this exercise, you can use a wide grip, or a close grip.
            4. When I did the “10 handstands until failure,” I did mine off the wall and just tried to hold my position. If you are not comfortable with handstands, try holding the handstand against the wall for as long as you can.

            Hope you enjoy this workout as much as I did. Let me know what you think or if you ended up modifying any of the exercises. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics, contact me at

            Hollow Body Holds

            This is one of the greatest core conditioning exercises out there. It may look simple, but after only a few seconds, you will feel your core burning! Hollow Body Holds will strengthen your entire core and will help condition your body for many other exercises.

            Hollow Body Holds 3

            How to Perform Hollow Body Holds:
            1. Lie down with your back on the floor and hands by your side
            2. While keeping your lower back flat on the ground, activate your core to lift your legs, arms and shoulders a few inches off the ground.
            3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds (or as long a possible). The image shows the position to hold during a Hollow Body Hold.

            1. You must keep your lower back flat on the floor. Keeping your lower back connected with the floor will activate the appropriate muscles for this exercise.
            2. You may find yourself shaking during this exercise. As long as you are not uncomfortable, try to push through it. You may shake because your muscles are not used to the tension from this exercise, but it means that your muscles are working hard. Be prepared to be sore tomorrow!
            3. BREATHE! Do not hold your breath during this exercise. Focus and take slow deep breaths.
            4. Keep your legs tight together!

            Have you ever tried Hollow Body Holds? How long can you hold a Hollow Body Hold? Contact me at with questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

            Raised L-Sits

            Are you ready for another great stabilization exercise? L-sits are one of my favorite core strengthening exercises to perform because you can engage your entire core with one simple move. L-sits are a great exercise to add to any workout plan, and no matter what your fitness level, there is always room for growth and improvement with this exercise.

            Raised L Sit

            How to do Raised L Sits:
            1. Grab two bars or stable surfaces of equal height and set them about 1 to 2 feet apart from each other. (The distance apart depends on the comfort of each person individually)
            2. Place one hand on each surface and squat down to prepare for the exercise.
            3. With your arms straight, raise your legs up off the floor in front of you.
            4. Straighten your legs so they are now parallel to the floor.
            5. Hold this position for as long as you can and then lower your legs back to the floor.
            6. Repeat this exercise for the allotted amount of sets.

            1. Track your progress with L-sits. The first time you try this exercise, you may only be able to hold this position for a few seconds, but after only a few weeks, you will see a huge difference in what you can do. Seeing your time increase will help motivate you to keep pushing your limits.
            2. Keep your chest open and up. Keep your back straight and do not hunch when doing this exercise. Hunching will activate the wrong muscles and may even cause muscle strain.
            3. Breathe. Like most stabilization exercises, it is common for people to hold their breath. I am sometimes guilty of this too, but holding your breath will cause unnecessary tension throughout your entire body which will actually make this exercise harder.
            4. Look straight ahead! Try not to look down at the floor or at your legs, and don’t lift your head up. Pick something straight in front of you to focus on.
            5. Your toes can be flexed or pointed during this exercise, but choose one. You want to really activate your legs and keep them straight and tight in this workout. If you let your feet just dangle, you will not be fully engaging your legs in this exercise.
            6. If you do not have bars for this exercise, you can use two platforms, chairs, or even stacks of books.
            7. My goal for this exercise is usually to hold the L-sit from 30-60 seconds and I do about 5 sets. If I do them right in a row, I try to take about a one minute break in between each set.

            Have you ever tried Raised L-sits? Let me know what you think of this exercise and let me know if you have any other questions or comments by emailing me at

            Killer Core Workout

            Photography:  Peter Brown Apparel: Body Aware

            Photography: Peter Brown
            Apparel: Body Aware

            When it comes to core workouts, I like to dedicate one day during the week to just core exercises. This workout is the one that I have been using for the past few weeks to help build and tone my core. So far I have been feeling and seeing some great results. The thing I really like about this workout is that it does not only focus on one area of your abdominals, but instead focuses on your entire midsection from your abs, to your obliques, and even your lower back. This workout consists of groups of exercises that should be done right after another followed by a long rest. This will test your endurance and will help give you the results you are looking for. Try it out and let me know what you think.


            Cardio and Warmup:
            30 minutes of Cardio
            10 minutes of Stretching

            Group 1: (3 sets)
            Leg Lifts with Alternating Stability Ball x 15 reps (Click Here)
            Reverse Crunch with Stability Ball x 25 reps (Click Here)
            Leg Lifts With Stability Ball x 10 reps (Click Here)
            90 second rest
            * Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

            Group 2: (3 sets)
            Kettlebell Side Bend x 20 reps on right
            Kettlebell Side Bend x 20 reps on left
            Ab roller x 15 reps
            90 second rest
            * Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

            Group 3: (3 sets)
            Raised Side Plank on right x Hold for 1 minute (Click Here)
            Raised Side Plank on left x Hold for 1 minute (Click Here)
            Toes to Bar x 10 reps
            * Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

            Group 4: (3 sets)
            Hollow Hold x Hold for 1 minute or until failure
            60 second rest
            * Do 3 sets of this exercise

            Group 5:
            Back hyperextensions x 200 reps. Rest when needed.
            * I usually do about 5-10 at a time and then rest for about 5-10 seconds.

            That is my Killer Core Workout that I have been doing once a week for the past month. It is definitely not easy, but it will help get you a strong and toned core. Let me know what you think of the workout and contact me with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics at

            Rolling Pistol Squats

            Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 1

            Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 2

            Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 3

            Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 4

            Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 5

            One of the benchmark exercises to do in any CrossFit gym is a Pistol Squat. Pistol Squats involve only using one leg to squat down and push back up to the standing position. This exercise is very difficult and requires a lot of practice and strength to complete. Rolling Pistol Squats are an easier variation of the standard Pistol Squat because they allow you to use momentum to your advantage. Rolling Pistol Squats are also a great cardio and full body workout.

            To Perform a Rolling Pistol Squat:
            1. Start in the standing position with both feet on the floor.
            2. Squat down with your glutes as close to the floor as possible and create a comfortable curve in your back to prepare to roll backward.
            3. Roll backward onto your back and raise your legs in the air.
            4. Using the momentum of throwing your legs forward, place one foot on the ground as close to your glutes as possible with the other leg straight out in front of you and stand up.
            5. Once standing, put the leg that is straight out in front of you back down to return to the standing position.
            6. Repeat the exercise from Step 2 and alternate legs with each rep.

            1. When I roll backward, I like to keep my legs straight and bring my legs as close to my chest as I can. I give them a light pull with my hands and this allows me to give my hamstrings a stretch.
            2. The closer you can place your foot to you glutes when you role forward, the easier it will be to stand up.
            3. Momentum is key! Quickly bring your legs forward to make the push up from the floor easier.
            4. For anyone with a knee or hip injury, any variation of a pistol squat is not recommended. Never do a workout that causes you pain. Listen to your body!
            5. Rolling Pistol Squats are great to help tone your legs, but they also wok your core and provide a good cardio workout as well. I like to use Rolling Pistol Squats in between other exercises to keep my heart rate up. I usually do about 16 reps per set (8 on each leg), and about 3-5 sets during my workout.

            Have you ever tried Rolling Pistol Squats? Do you plan on adding these to your workout routine? I really appreciate any feedback. Contact me at

            BOSU Burpees

            Back to BURPEES! I promised that I would show you other versions of Burpees and the one I am about to show you is one of my favorites. For this variation, you will need to use a BOSU ball. These BOSU Burpees intensify your workout by adding stability and resistance components to your burpee.

            To do a BOSU Burpee:
            1. Start in a standing position holding the BOSU Ball handles with the ball facing away from your body.
            2. Squat down and place the BOSU ball on the ground. (The flat side should be facing up and the ball side should be on the floor)
            3. Jump your feet back to put yourself in a plank position while still holding the BOSU ball handles.
            3a. Optional Pushup
            4. Jump your feet forward to return to the squat position.
            5. Raise the BOSU ball above your head.
            6. Jump up. While jumping, press the BOSU ball up toward the ceiling.
            7. Repeat from Step #1.

            1. If you are not familiar with Burpees, or forget some of the tips I have given to get the most out of these exercises, check out my ‘How to do a Burpee’ Post before trying this more difficult variation of the exercise. It is important to understand the body mechanics of the basic exercise before trying more difficult variations in order to prevent injury.
            2. Remember, when squatting down, try and get your glutes low to the floor.
            3. Activate your core while in the plank position. The BOSU Ball will add an additional stability aspect to the exercise which will require more core strength and activation than the Basic Burpee.
            4. When jumping during this exercise, you also press the BOSU Ball up toward the ceiling. Adding the BOSU ball will not only add weight to your jump making the jump more difficult, but it will also help tone your shoulders while pressing the BOSU Ball up.

            Bosu Burpee: Step 1

            Bosu Burpee: Step 1

            Bosu Burpee: Step 2

            Bosu Burpee: Step 2

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3a (optional pushup)

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3a

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3a (finish optional pushup)

            Bosu Burpee: Step 3a

            Bosu Burpee: Step 4

            Bosu Burpee: Step 4

            Bosu Burpee: Step 5

            Bosu Burpee: Step 5

            Bosu Burpee: Step 6

            Bosu Burpee: Step 6




















            Do you any variations of Burpees that you like to include in your workout routine? Contact me at for any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

            How to do a Burpee!

            BURPEES! You love them and you hate them.
            Burpees are an amazing cardio workout and work many of your major muscle groups. Burpees are one of the best full body workouts you can do in your exercise routine, however it is also easy to do a burpee incorrectly, making the exercise not as effective.

            To do a Basic Burpee:
            1. Start in a standing position
            2. Squat down and place your hands on the ground.
            3. Jump your feet back to put yourself in a plank position.
            4. Jump your feet forward to return to the squat position.
            5. Jump up straight off the floor from the squat position.
            6. Repeat from Step #1

            There are many variations of Burpees. The most common variation is the Burpee Pushup where one pushup is done while in the plank position. (Between steps #3 and #4 of the Basic Burpee instructions, do a pushup).

            1. When squatting down, try and get your glutes low to the floor. This will make the exercise seem harder, but that is because you are activating most of the muscles in your legs from your quads, to your glutes and hamstrings. This muscle activation will help tone your legs more effectively.
            2. While in the plank position, make sure to keep your body completely flat and activate your core. It is very easy to raise you hips and glutes up toward the ceiling.
            3. When jumping during this exercise, and in any other exercise, land with bent knees. If you jump and land with your legs completely straight, you will put too much pressure on your knees and lead to injuries in the future.
            4. Burpees can be done as a FT workout (For Time) or AMRAP workout (As Many Reps As Possible). If you do a FT workout, give yourself a certain number of burpees to do and see how much time it takes you to complete the workout. If you choose to do an AMRAP workout, give yourself an amount of time, usually a minute or two, and see how many burpees you can do in the time allotted.

            Burpee: Step 3

            Burpee: Step 3

            Burpee: Step 2

            Burpee: Step 2

            Burpee: Step 1

            Burpee: Step 1

            Burpee: Step 5

            Burpee: Step 5

            Burpee: Step 4

            Burpee: Step 4

            Burpee: Step 3a (optional pushup)

            Burpee: Step 3a (optional pushup)

            Burpee: Step 6

            Burpee: Step 6

            Do you include Burpees into your workout? Do you have any variations that you would like to share? Contact me at for any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

            Feature Friday: Sandy Vo

            Sandy Vo 1

            First name: Sandy
            Last name: Vo
            City: Albany
            State: New York
            Age: 21
            Height: 5’2″
            Weight: 128lbs
            Profession: Communication major, Business minor. Founder of Peer Academic Review Board for the school. Director of Communications for American Marketing Association. Proud intern at this awesome music company called Tunigo. If you’re a music lover, this will be your best friend for life.

            Follow Her:
            Twitter: @Msfitique
            Instagram: Msfitique

            When did you start working out?:
            I started this new healthy lifestyle, working out and eating clean consistently late March last year. I didn’t start lifting until July though! I’ve seen tremendous changes ever since I started lifting. To think that I used to be the one who was scared of weights because it would make me bulky is too funny to even think about it. Start lifting ladies 😉

            Sandy Vo 2

            How many days a week do you work out?:
            I work out 6 days a week and make sure to have one rest day for my body to recuperate. Some weeks I have ultra energy and find it hard to have a rest day. That’s what this lifestyle does to you though. It makes you feel so good, mentally and physically, that you start absolutely loving it. Being an ex-college party girl who was almost always hung over, working out and eating clean was non- existent in my life. When I started, I did it because I felt like I absolutely had to in order to get healthy. Now, I do it as a hobby more than anything. It’s incredible how much my mental state has changed since then too. It’s so worth ditching parties, cheesy pizza and liver killing alcohol for =).

            How long is your average workout?:
            My average workout is 1 hour. When I first started and had no clue what to do in the gym, I’d hog the elliptical for almost 2 hours and got super skinny, and fragile looking as a result. Now, lifting and having knowledge about the right kind of training, it only takes 1 hour of my life a day to get fit. There are no excuses there.

            Favorite muscles to exercise:
            I love working out my glutes because I have some pretty fun exercises for that, and I love seeing the changes week to week. I also love working my legs overall, and shoulders.

            Sandy Vo 3

            Least favorite muscles to exercise:
            If I had to pick, I’d say chest because I’m not a huge fan of bench presses.

            Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
            Yes! I’m actually competing for my very first show June 29th in Boston with the WBFF. After losing 30 pounds since I started this journey less than a year ago, it’s been rough to get my physique to where I wanted it. I was looking fragile and I wanted to be fit. So I started slowly upping my calories to gain weight but I did it the wrong way and I gained back all the weight. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn. I started prepping in January actually because I wanted to do this the healthiest way possible by giving myself time. So far I’ve learned that slow progress is the best kind of progress and real results take time. Patience is everything! I gained back all the weight because I was frustrated with not seeing the kind of results that I did. In January 23, I was 140. Now March 29, I am 128. Competing for me, has nothing to do about winning a trophy. That will be my cherry on top. It’s more about testing how strong your mind really is. Training for a show isn’t easy but it will be worth it in the end.

            Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
            – Amanda Latona, super hot body with a kick ass personality.
            – Justine Munro
            – Andrea Brazier is also another gorgeous, hard body inspiration.

            What supplements do you take or recommend?:
            I only take multi vitamins, fish oil, vitamin d, iron (because I’m low on iron) and that’s it! I don’t believe in using fat burners and unnecessary supplements that may harm my body. All the nutrients that we need is in our food! Supplements are just that, they supplement our diet, not replace it.

            Sandy Vo 4

            Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
            Meal 1- 4 egg whites, 1 egg. 1/2 c oats
            Meal 2- 1/2 c cottage cheese, blueberries
            Meal 3- 3 oz chicken with small salad and 1/4 c brown rice
            Meal 4- 3 oz chicken with small salad
            Meal 5 -3 oz tilapia with veggies and sweet potato
            Meal 6 – Protein shake
            Of course I add my own little twist and turns to make my food super delicious. I turn meal one into scrumptious pancakes

            Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
            HIIT is very affective. I’m talking about a lot of calories and fat burned in a short amount of time. It’s also fun to play around with the intensity and challenge yourself. Normal steady cardio is boring. I find myself seeing the most progress with high intensity interval training always.

            How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
            Because I am prepping for a show right now, I do cardio 6 days a week. I do one session in the morning and one after lifting.

            Sandy Vo 5

            Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
            Start by believing in yourself. Believe that you can achieve that physique that you have always dreamed of, but more importantly, believe that you have that strong mentality and power inside of you to do absolutely anything. Back then, running at 8.0 mph for even 20 seconds was impossible to me. It was impossible because I limited myself. But once I tapped into that power I knew I always had inside of me, I finished a mile in 6 min and 30 sec. I’ll never forget how accomplished I felt. Another super important tip is be patient! All your hard work will pay off if you are willing to be patient for it. The small progresses are the best. Learn to love them, reward yourself for them versus picking on yourself for not seeing any changes. I promise you that you can wait just a little bit longer while continuing to do what you do, you WILL get there!

            Do you have any other things you would like to say? (Comments, Suggestions, etc)?:
            I’m currently in the making of my own incredible fitness journey and I have yet to be at the level that I want to be at but looking back, the fact that I have made it this far is what thrills me the most. I’m super excited to see how far I am going to take myself with this show coming up! I’m taking my readers a long with me through my journey on Youtube as well, so feel free to watch me go!

            Did you like this Feature Friday Inspiration? Do you want to know more about Sandy Vo? Do you think you have what it takes to be my next Feature Friday Inspiration? Email me at

            Workout: Outside Body Weight Workout 4/6/13

            When traveling, sometimes it is hard to really find the time and place to get in a good workout. Today we experienced exactly that. DO NOT LET THIS BE AN EXCUSE TO DO NOTHING!!!!! Right now I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the weather could not have been more perfect for a workout. With little time and little equipment, my fellow cast members and I put together a quick circuit training workout that we could do outside just using our body weight. All you need to perform this workout is a bench, wall, or other object that is a foot or two off the ground. Here it is:

            Alec Varcas Circuit Training

            20 pushups
            20 tricep dips
            15 burpees
            15 box jumps
            10 squats
            60 second plank hold
            Sprint around the pool

            We did this circuit 5 times!

            The goal was to do this as fast as possible with very little breaks. It doesn’t sound too hard when you read through the workout, but once you get your heart rate going and you really push yourself to finish quickly, you will definitely SWEAT and your muscles will be screaming!

            1. If you have never done any of these workouts, please do proper research and make sure your form is correct and safe! I will be posting some techniques for these workouts in the near future, so keep an eye out.
            2. Circuit Training workouts are great to do with a group of friends. Seeing others push themselves hard, only makes me want to push my limits too. Plus if you are competitive, you can see who is able to finish the workout first!
            3. BRING WATER! Circuit training can be very hard and if you do not hydrate, you are chancing dehydration which is never a good thing!
            4. Push yourself. If you find this workout too easy, make it harder! You can add 10 more pushups, 10 more box jumps, 10 more squats, or even add more workouts to the circuit!

            After this workout I realized that I did have a little more time so I also did 3 sets of:
            20 belt kicks
            60 second side plank holds on each side
            40 power squats
            30 pushups

            All of these workouts together make up a great, quick full body workout. I usualy like to focus on one or two muscle groups a day, but it is great to mix it once in a while. Circuit training provides great cardio while also building and toning your muscles.

            Do you have any circuits you like to do? Sent them to me! Maybe I will try them out and post them :-). Do you have any other questions? Email me at

            Feature Friday: Johan Stephan

            Johan Stephan 1
            First name: Johan
            Last name: Stephan
            City: Johannesburg
            Country: South Africa
            Height: 1.76m (about 5’9″)
            Weight: 75kg (165 lbs)
            Profession: TV Producer

            Follow Him:
            Twitter: @jostephan
            Instagram: jostephan

            When did you start working out?:
            I started working out in 2005.

            How many days a week do you work out?:
            6 days week.

            Johan Stephan 2

            How long is your average workout?:
            My average workout is about 1 hour.

            Do you play any sports?:
            I used to play rugby, but now only get time for the gym.

            Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
            I would like to reach an aesthetically balanced physique and build ultimate muscle strength and tone.

            What supplements do you take or recommend?:
            I don’t take any supplements. I follow a strict diet plan.

            Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
            I follow a food plan based on the Mineral Body science. It’s a fairly new and relatively unknown science but I’ve been following it on a trial basis for the last 6 years and have only benefitted from it. It’s a complex eating plan to explain and I will be publishing more details on this science via my personal website and Tumblr blog soon.

            Johan Stephan 3

            Does your diet consist of cheat meals? If so, how often do you have one?:
            No cheat meals really.

            What is your personal website?:
            My personal website is although it’s currently being upgraded.

            What are you a TV Producer for?:
            I produce fitness videos, but this site is also being upgraded. The website is

            How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
            I don’t do any cardio.

            Johan Stephan 4

            Do you model? If so, what have you been featured in?:
            I have only done exhibitions for major photographers in South Africa.

            What has been your biggest fitness accomplishment so far?:
            Launching my own fitness media site GetFitTV, which will soon be completely revamped and relaunched.

            Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
            Make realistic, short-term goals and reach them first before giving up on bigger goals that are often unrealistically set.

            Did you like this Feature Friday Inspiration? Do you want to know more about Johan Stephan? Do you think you have what it takes to be my next Feature Friday Inspiration? Email me at