Reverse Hyperextensions with a Stability Ball

Reverse Back Hyperextension: Step 1

Reverse Back Hyperextension: Step 2

Reverse Hyperextensions are a great exercise to help tone and strengthen your lower back while also working your glutes. Although this exercise is pretty easy to do, and it may even look fun, when done correctly, you will feel a burn in your lower back region. All you need for this exercise is an exercise ball.

To do Reverse Ball Hyperextensions:
1. Lie down, facing forward, with your hips on top of the exercise ball. Place your forearms on the floor, and your feet should be just off the floor. Keep your legs straight.
2. While keeping your legs extended, raise your legs up as high as you can.
3. Slowly lower your legs back down to about an inch above the floor.
4. Repeat steps 2-3 for the allotted amount of reps. (I like to do 5 sets of 10 reps.)

TIPS:
1. These should be slow controlled motions. You really want to feel a nice tightening in your lower back when you raise your legs.
2. When your legs are at the highest point, try to hold the position for about a second before you lower your legs back down. This will increase you muscle activation and make the exercise more affective.
3. This exercise can be done with your feet together or apart. I like to keep mine together, but if you do separate them, keep your feet shoulder width apart.
4. Do not use the ball to bounce your legs up in the air. Doing so could cause muscle strain or injury due to the fast motion from the bounce.

Do you like this exercise? Do you have any other exercises you like to do to strengthen your lower back? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for other posts.

One Arm Medicine Ball Pushups

One Arm Med Ball Pushup: Step 1

One Arm Med Ball Pushup: Step 2

One Arm Med Ball Pushup: Step 3

One Arm Med Ball Pushup: Step 4

Do you want a new chest exercise that will really stretch and activate your pecs? This exercise activates all areas of your chest, works on your stabilization skills, and also gives your pecs a nice pull allowing your muscles to lengthen and grow.

To perform a One Arm Medicine Ball Pushups:
1. Start in a Pushup Plank Position with one hand on the floor and one hand on top of a medicine ball.
2. Lower into a pushup keeping one hand on the medicine ball.
3. Return to the Pushup Plank Position.
4. Roll the ball to the opposite hand and repeat the exercise.
5. Continue rolling the ball from one hand to the other with a pushup in between. I like to do 10 reps (20 pushups, 10 on the right, 10 on the left).

TIPS:
1. Activate your core in order to stabilize your body. When lowering into the push position, you should not tip to one side or droop your body to the floor.
2. Your chest should be parallel to the floor. If you tilt your shoulders, your chest will no longer be parallel and you will not be using the correct muscles during the exercise. (In the second picture, my shoulders are a little lopsided. Try to avoid this positioning and aim for a more parallel look like the positioning I achieved in the third picture. Form is important for this and every exercise).
3. Your feet can be wide, shoulder width apart, or together. The closer your feet are, the more your core will need to activate to stabilize your body.
4. I like to alternate sides during the exercise, rolling the ball to the opposing hand between each pushup. Other people may recommend doing all 10 pushups on one side, and then switching to the other hand to do the other 10. Either way works well, I just find continuously alternating makes the exercise more challenging because you are constantly shifting your weight and positioning.

Do you enjoy this workout? Do you have any other chest workouts that may be helpful? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for other blog topics.

Coconut Turkey Bacon

It may sound weird to some of you, but I promise that it is delicious. If you like Coconut and you like Turkey Bacon, then you will LOVE this recipe. I will admit right now, it is not the healthiest snack you can have, but can make for a nice treat once when you are really craving something both sweet and savory.

Coconut Turkey Bacon

Ingredients:
8 Turkey Bacon Strips
3 oz. of Shredded Coconut
2 tbsp. of Coconut Oil
1 egg

Directions:
1. Crack 1 egg in a bowl and stir with a whisk or fork.
2. Place the shredded coconut on a large plate and spread it out evenly.
3. Oil a frying pan using 2 tbsp. of coconut oil and put the frying pan on the stove top at low-medium heat.
4. Coat one strip of turkey bacon at a time with the egg that was mixed in the bowl. This can easily be done by dipping the entire turkey bacon strip in the bowl.
5. Place the coated turkey bacon strip on the plate with the shredded coconut. Coat the strip on both sides with shredded coconut.
6. Place the turkey bacon strip on the frying pan and let it sit for about 1 minute. After one minute, flip the turkey bacon strip and cook for an additional minute. The reason we do not fry the bacon for too long is because the coconut will easily blacken if cooked too long. We want the coconut to be golden brown.
7. Remove the strip from the frying pan and place it on a plate that is covered by a paper towel.
8. Continue the process from step 4-7 for the other 7 pieces of turkey bacon. Once you have finished cooking all of the pieces, you should have 8 coconut coated, turkey bacon strips on one plate.
9. Place a paper towel over the turkey bacon and put the plate in the microwave. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes or until the turkey bacon has a consistency you like.
10. Let the plate cool and ENJOY!

Do you like this recipe? Do you have any recipes you would like to share? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

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.

TIPS:
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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs

Let me be the first to say that I am not a great cook. I have a really bad habit of over cooking food, I don’t usually know what spices go well in what recipes, and I tend to ‘eyeball’ measurements incorrectly. With this said, my turkey meatball recipe is really easy and it makes a pretty tasty and healthy meal. This recipe makes 12-15 meatballs.

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs 1

Cranberry Turkey Meatballs 2

Cranberry Meatballs:
Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb of extra lean ground turkey
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 egg
1 egg white
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
Pinch of Salt

(Optional Ingredients)
4 TBSP of Parmesan Cheese
Shaved Carrots
Dash of Rosemary

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and place it in the oven while preheating.
2. Quickly dice the dried cranberries on a cutting board.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, oats, egg, egg white, cranberries, and any other optional ingredients.
4. Using your hands, or an ice cream scoop if possible, form the meat into golf ball sized meatballs (about 1-1.5 inches in diameter). Place the meatballs about 1 inch apart on the pan.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn them over, and continue baking for 5-8 more minutes. The meatballs should look light brown on the outside. Cut into one meatball to make sure they have been cooked entirely through.
6. Let the meatballs cool and serve with vegetables, pasta, or any way you would like it.

Tip:
– I like to double the batch and save the meatballs for my meals for the week. The cranberries make the meatballs a little sweet, so when I reheat them, I like to rub a tiny bit of coconut oil on the outsides of the meatballs and heat them up in the microwave or oven. I usually have about 5-6 meatballs with a side of vegetables (asparagus or green beans with a little coconut oil are my favorites to have with these meatballs).

Let me know if you like this recipe. Do you have any healthy recipes you would like to share? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for future topics.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

goodandbadcarbs
I think most of us have heard the terms ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’ before, but do we actually know what they mean. To make it as simple as possible, ‘Good Carbs’ come from foods that also have a good source of fiber. For example, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc. ‘Bad Carbs’ come from foods with little to no fiber content, such as white bread, white rice, etc. Fiber allows the body to slowly digest the carbs that we consume which leads to more stable blood sugar. If we eat food high in carbs and low in fiber, we quickly digest the carbs which then causes spikes in our blood pressure.
One other major thing to understand about good carbs and bad carbs is the composition of the carbs themselves. When carbs are digested, they are broken down into glucose (sugar) which the body needs for energy. During digestion, the body will break down any carb it is given into glucose; however, because of the fiber and other nutritional value with good carbs, the body is taking in more than just glucose. With bad carbs, the body is only quickly converting the carbs to glucose with no other vitamins or minerals to digest; therefore the calories being consumed can be considered ’empty’ calories and not beneficial.

The moral of the story is:
1. Stay away from foods high in carbs, but low in fiber.
2. It is healthy to eat ‘good carbs’ (aka. foods with vitamins, minerals, and fiber)

I hope this article helped. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or ideas for other blog post, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com .

Feature Friday: Cassandra Fiorella aka ‘PetiteFi’

PetiteFi1

First name: Cassandra aka ‘PetiteFi’

Last name: Fiorella

City: Denver

State: Colorado

Age: 26

Height: 5’4”

Weight: I rarely get on a scale and have not been on one in a decent while, but I would guess around 130 – 135lbs

Profession: General Trouble Maker/Blogger/Health Enthusiast/Crossfitter/Trainer

Follow Her:
Twitter: @OhHeyItsFi
Instagram: PetiteFi
Blog/Website URL: One is coming soon!

When did you start working out?:

I grew up an active child – playing sports, climbing trees, biking, running, jumping around. “Fitness” in the sense of movement and life- has been a part of my world since day 1. However, my journey into fitness in the traditional sense of the word began around the time I turned 21. It was at that time, after a long stint of years spent partying, that I realized it was time to change my direction and head down a new path in life.

PetiteFi2

How many days a week do you work out?:

This is very much season and schedule dependent, but I prefer to hit the gym 5 to 6 days a week. I’d say I average 4 a week throughout the year although even on the days I don’t make it into the gym, I still remain relatively active either through biking (my main mode of transportation) or hiking, running, walking. This is simply a way of life for me, not some necessary evil or chore I feel I must do.

How long is your average workout?:

Crossfit WOD classes are scheduled for an hour at a time however the actual workouts themselves average around 12 to 20 minutes. The rest of the hour is spent warming up, going over technique and mobilizing/stretching. Some days I perform additional “accessory” work generally in the form of technique work focused around particular weaknesses of mine. I also try to spend at least 15 minutes a day mobilizing as flexibly is a major factor that generally gets overlooked. On top of this, I generally average around 10 miles a day on my bike (in the warmer months) simply in transport from one place to another.

Favorite muscles to exercise:

All of them! I don’t “spot” train (no “leg days” or “back days” for me). My lower body is much stronger than my upper body – as is the case for most women – so anything lower body centric is preferable to me but I am working hard to balance them out as much as possible.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:

None. This is not about muscle groupings for me. This is about functionality. Anything involving heavy overhead (presses/snatches) is difficult for me and causes me the most anguish, but I enjoy practicing those movements because I want to improve.

PetiteFi3

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:

I absolutely have goals and will continue to do so with every one I achieve. By the end of 2013 I would like to be able to Squat 300lbs, Deadlift 300+, Bench press 150lbs, Snatch my body weight, Clean & Jerk my body weight (or more), perform 10 strict handstand push ups, and knock out double unders like its my job.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:

To be perfectly honest, all the people I see and meet on a regular basis who are pushing themselves in the gym are inspiration to me. Whether it is the girl taking her first steps into the weight room, the novice nailing a heavy lift they’ve attempted time and time again, or the single mom somehow finding time in her day to take a walk around the park. Knowing that they all are striving to better themselves fuels my drive to better myself and help others do so in the process. All accomplishments, large or small, deserve to be recognized and celebrated. If you are dedicated, working hard and staying positive all the while, you have my utmost respect regardless of your fitness level.

What supplements do you take or recommend?:

Supplementation is a gray area in my world. I believe that some supplementation, mostly in the form of vitamins and minerals, can be used to round out a healthy, real food based diet, but totally relying on pills & powders is absolutely unnecessary and potentially dangerous. I personally try to get all my nutritional needs from whole foods but do take a high concentrated fish oil as well as a D3 supplement daily. I occasionally make use of protein powders either when I am in a pinch for time after the gym or in between meals in order to meet my daily protein requirements, but try to not rely on them too much. I’d much rather eat a steak than drink a chocolate flavored beverage.

PetiteFi4

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:

I eat Real Food! Foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. I eat very little, if anything, processed – even making my own condiments and non-dairy milks. High quality (aka grass-fed, pasture raised) animal products from a variety of sources (including organs and bone marrow) make up a large portion of my diet as well as seafood and eggs. I eat a wide variety of vegetables including an abundance of dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes and squash for my carbohydrates. I also eat A LOT of fat – coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, bacon fat, avocado as well as some nuts and seeds. I consume a minimal amount of fruit as I try to keep my sugar intake, even sugar from natural sources, on the low end and I do not drink any alcohol or sugar based beverages but do drink coffee and kombucha tea regularly. I also incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut regularly for their probiotic benefit as well as drink home made bone broth to support healthy gut flora!

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:

Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. I truly believe in Crossfit because I have seen what it has done for hundreds of people’s lives – including my own! The premise of specializing in not specializing is very appealing to me as it has developed me into a well-rounded athlete capable of a wide variety of tasks and set the stage for my functionality for years to come. That being said, if I had to pick one exercise that I believe is the most affective in overall strength and health development it would be the squat. Loaded and unloaded. You want to be able to stand up off the toilet without assistance for the rest of your life, don’t you?

PetiteFi5

How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):

The only “cardio” I perform in the traditional sense regularly is riding my bicycle, as it is my main mode of transportation. I average around 100 miles a week in the spring and summer time here and probably spend more time on that thing than off. Otherwise, I am training my cardiovascular system every time I train thanks to my workouts being performed at high intensity

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:

Find a style of fitness that you find fun! If you hate to run it is very unlikely that you will stick to running a few times a week. Try different types of classes, workout alone or with friends, experiment with active activities in order to find something that best suits you. There is no ONE “right” way – don’t let anyone allow you to feel that there is. Regardless of how you choose to train, STAY consistent! That is ultimately the key to success in anything in life. Hard work & dedication.

Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:

Remember that your life is yours and yours alone. You can shape it into any direction you choose – make it what you want.

Do you find ‘PetiteFi’ inspiring? Do you have any other questions for her? Do you think you have what it takes to be featured on my blog? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Bruschetta Spinach Omelette

Bruchetta Spinach Omelette

This omelette is not only a delicious breakfast, but it also is a great meal for any time of day. For anybody out there on a low carb diet, you need to try omelette recipes like this! The entire omelette has less than 5g of carbs, about 20g of protein, and a good amount of healthy fats (which you need on any diet!). Another reason I love this meal is because it takes only a few minutes to make. All you need to make this is 1 egg mixed with 2 egg whites, 1 cup of spinach, 2 tbsp of Parmesan Cheese, and a half cup of Bruschetta (plum tomatoes, garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and other spices depending on what recipe you may try). Mix the egg and egg whites in a bowl and cook in a pan. Once most of the egg is cooked, flip the omelette over and add the spinach and cheese on top. Fold the omelette over and finish cooking until the omelette in golden. Place on a plate and add the bruschetta on top. Thats it! Try it out and let me know what you think!

Like this recipe? Have any you would like to share? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

A Better Way To Eat Almonds

Did you Know…

You can get more out of your almonds by soaking them in water.

Almonds are one of my go to foods to snack on because they are high in protein, fatty acids, omega-3 and fiber. Almonds are also considered a Superfood because of the high levels of Vitamin E, Antioxidants, and they help curve your hunger. After doing some research I found out that soaking almonds actually helps you absorb more of the nutrients the almonds have to offer, but how?

Almonds2

The brown skin on an almond protects it until the correct levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Because of this, eating an almond without allowing it to get proper moisture makes it harder to digest. When the almond is soaked; however, the outer brown skin is penetrated and the almond releases enzymes. When eating an almond that has been allowed to take in such moisture, you are able to digest the almond more efficiently and absorb the healthy nutrients the almond has to offer.

How to soak an Almond:
This is very easy. It is recommended to put the almonds in a bowl of purified water. Cover the almonds with 2 cups of water per 1/2 cup of almonds. Soak the almonds in the bowl overnight (10-12 hours). After the 10-12 hours, drain the almonds and eat or store them. You can store the almonds in the refrigerator for about one week. The almonds are soft, sweet, and they taste great!

Apparently, if you would like to sprout your almonds, simply soak you almonds overnight and place them in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. After a few days, the almonds should begin to sprout (about 1/8-inch sprout should show). A sprouted almond can be more beneficial than a soaked almond because they are easier to digest and they also release lipase (an enzyme that helps digest fat). I have not tried this, but would like to very soon. If you have, please let me know what you think!

Do you like this post? Do you have any other ideas for posts? If you have any questions or comments please email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com!

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
Blog: http://www.msfitique.com

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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com