New Years Resolutions

The new year is just around the corner which means that millions of people will be making goals to achieve in the next 365 days. One of the most common resolutions has to do with loosing weight and achieving “the perfect body”. Every year I hear countless amounts of people saying that they will loose the excess weight, they will build their muscles, and they will get the six pack they always wanted, but only a small fraction actually see any results. It is estimated that only 8% of people actually reach their New Years resolutions. Why is it so hard reach these goals? I have a few tips that will hopefully make it a little easier to stay on track.

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

The first thing we need to do is realize that small changes can make a big difference. Although you may have a big weight loss goal in mind, making a small change to your diet and exercise plan can make that once out-of-reach dream more attainable. Switching out a snack food for something healthier, not eating before bed, or even simply adding 20 minutes of cardio a few times of week can start the process of reaching your bigger health goals.

Another important idea to adapt when setting a resolution is that instead of just setting a goal, decide on what steps need to be made in order to reach that goal. Making a plan helps you better understand why kind of commitment it is to reach your “dream body.” It is A LOT of work and A LOT of commitment, but that still does not mean that it is unattainable. Once you plan out what needs to be done to loose that extra weight, you need to start applying the changes to your life, but not all at once. Making a lot of drastic changes in a short amount of time literally puts your brain and body into shock, which in turn makes these changes near impossible to adapt. So instead, apply one or two changes at first, and once you have adapted the new changes and turned them more into a habit, you can apply another change or two.

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

The last important thing to understand when making a resolution is that patience is key. Nothing happens over night, especially when it comes to weight loss or muscle building. There is no quick fix. Living a healthy lifestyle is just that, a LIFESTYLE. You have to adapt new habits to a point where you would rather go exercise than sit on the couch all day; you would rather eat chicken and vegetables than a Big Mac; you would rather go to bed than stay up late and watch movies. To some this may sound weird, but by adapting these habits, I have never felt better in my life. I am happier, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am more productive, I have better focus, and overall live a more fulfilling life.

Think of it this way… If you have a resolution to lose 50 pounds in the new year, that may sound like a big almost impossible obstacle to overcome. 50 pounds?!?!…. That’s a small child! How can you do that? You have 365 days to reach this goal; 12 months to lose 50 pounds. This actually comes out to about 4 pounds every month or 1 pound a week. Now doesn’t that sound a little easier to do? If you set small shorter goals such as “I want to lose 4 pounds in January,” all of a sudden that big intimidating goal now seems way more doable.

Know that you are not alone and that we all are still trying to achieve our dream bodies. There are resources everywhere to help you get where you want to be. I know you can do it!

I hope this article helps you make next year the best year yet! I will help in any way I can and I would love to hear about your progress. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, ideas for new topics, or updates on your personal fitness successes.

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Make Your Own Healthy Ice Cream

Choco PB Banana Ice Cream 1

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, but I had to share this one because I LOVE Ice Cream. I know most diets out there don’t allow you to have ice cream on a regular basis, mostly because it is high in fat and sugar. Fear not, because I have found the recipe to help your ice cream craving. Although you may not believe me, this ice cream actually tastes really good, and just like any ice cream sundae, you can add whatever ingredients and toppings you want to make it your own.

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
INGREDIENTS:
Makes 1-2 servings
2 Chopped Frozen bananas
1/4 cup of milk (skim, almond, or soy)
1 scoop of Chocolate Protein

(Optional Ingredients:)
1 tsp. of Natural Peanut Butter
Banana Chips

Choco PB Banana Ice Cream 2

DIRECTIONS:
1. Peel, cut, and freeze 2 bananas in a zip lock bag.
2. Once the bananas are frozen (at least a few hours), place the bananas in a food processor or blender.
3. Add a splash of milk. DO NOT add all of the milk at once.
4. Blend the bananas and milk, slowly adding the rest of the milk in as you continue to blend and obtain the desired consistency.
5. Add and blend 1 scoop of Chocolate Protein Powder. Mix well.
6. Scoop Ice cream out into a bowl and add any extra ingredients. I added a peanut butter drizzle and banana chips on top.
7. ENJOY!!!

TIPS:
1. Chopping the bananas into smaller pieces makes the blending process a lot easier. Blending a whole frozen banana can be much more of a hassle.
2. It is important to add the milk in slowly. If you put it all in at once, you can easily make a mess… Trust me.
3. The 1/4 cup of milk measure measurement is an estimate, but usually I just eyeball it. Sometimes I use more and sometimes I use less. The less milk you add, the thinker the ice cream will be.
4. You may have to use a spoon to mix the ingredients around in between blending. Because the ice cream is thick, it can stick to the side of the food processor/blender. Just push the mixture back down toward the blade while the machine is off and then blend again.
3. If you make too much, put the rest in the freezer, and enjoy it at a different time. If you save any in the freezer, however, you may need to let the ice cream thaw for a little before you get the right consistency back.
4. This recipe can be altered to make many different flavors and varieties of ice cream. Try adding different toppings like cashews or coconuts flakes, or even try adding frozen fruit into the mix or changing up the flavor protein powder that you use. BE CREATIVE!!!

Do you like this recipe? Do you have any creative ingredients you add to make your own unique Ice Cream concoction? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

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.



TIPS:
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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

What is HIIT?

HIIT 1
Many of you may have heard about HIIT training before, but don’t really understand what it is. I’m going to briefly explain the concept of HIIT training and how you can include it into your workout.

WHAT IS HIIT?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The concept of HIIT is alternating low-intensity intervals with high-intensity intervals. The most common and simplest form of HIIT can be applied to running, however HIIT can be used in many different exercises such as burpees, box jumps, squats etc.

WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF A HIIT WORKOUT?
When running, instead of running at a steady pace for 15 minutes, try doing a low-intensity interval alternated with a high-intensity interval. For example, 30 seconds of walking, then 30 seconds of seconds of sprinting. Doing 15 rounds of this exercise would be a great HIIT workout. Push yourself hard during the sprint. Many times we are comfortable at one speed, however it is not even close to our max speed needed to do a sprint. The more you push yourself (under safe conditions), the better the results.

WHY IS IT EFFECTIVE?
Because of the high interval training, you are able to really work on your endurance, increase your metabolism, burn fat, and help build muscle.

Cassandra Fiorella @petitefi

@petitefi

    Endurance: According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Meeting, 2 weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training.
    Burn Fat: Because of the high intensity, your body works hard to repair itself. After a HIIT workout, you burn more calories over a 24 hour span than you would during a regular endurance program because your body is constantly working in repair mode to recover your muscles.
    Metabolism: HIIT increases the production of your HGH (Human Growth Hormone) by up to 450% which helps burn more calories throughout the day and is suppose to help slow down the aging process.

HIIT is never easy because you have to push yourself hard, but the outcome may surprise you. Since adding HIIT into my workouts, I have noticed a huge change in my body and my abilities as an athlete.

Do you include HIIT workouts into your workout routine? What are some of your favorite intervals to do? Let me know at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

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.

TIPS:
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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Handstand Negatives

Handstand Negatives 1

This is the next step in learning how to do Handstand Pushups. If you have not tried any of the previous workouts suggested in order to learn how to do a handstand pushup, CLICK HERE. Handstand Negatives depend on a slow controlled motion to strengthen and train your back, shoulder, and core muscles.

To Perform Handstand Negatives:
1. Place a pad, pillow, or soft surface on the floor and against the wall.
2. Face the wall and prepare to kick up into a handstand. To do so, place your hands a few inches away from the wall, on either side of the pad, and kick your legs up. You should end in an upside-down position with your back facing the wall.
3. Bend at your elbows and slowly lower your head down to the pad.
4. Lower your legs back to the ground by pushing off the wall with your feet.
5. Stand back up and repeat steps 2-5 for the allotted amount of reps.

Handstand Negatives 2

TIPS:
1. The exercise is ALL ABOUT CONTROL. Holding the handstand position will practice stability, but also the lowering down will activate those muscles needed to do a handstand pushup.
2. When lowering your head down to the pad, try to lower as slow as possible. Taking 3-5 seconds is ideal. The slow motion will make this exercise hard, but effective. It will really test and work a wide arrange of muscles in your upper body.
3. Once your head is down on the pad, try pushing up from this position. It is ok if you can’t, just kick up into a handstand before every negative. If you can do a pushup, do another handstand negative after the pushup.
4. Try doing 5 negatives at a time at first and then try and work your way up to 10 consecutive reps. At first you may not be able to lower yourself slowly, but over time really test yourself and try to lower yourself as slow as possible.

Have you ever tried Handstand Negatives? Have you been following my guide to learning handstand pushups? Let me know what you think. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

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.

KILLER CORE WORKOUT!

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.
Stretch

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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com