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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Feature Friday: Jerdani Kraja

Jerdani 1

First name: Jerdani
Last name: Kraja
City: San Diego
State: CA
Age: 21
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 180lbs
Profession: Fitness Model and Revlabs Athelete Manager

Follow Him:
Instagram: @jerdanikraja

Are you signed to any agencies or do you do promotions for any companies?
Revlabs (https://www.revlabs.com/)

When did you start working out?:
I started working out freshman year of high school when I was 14 years old.

Jerdani 2

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

How long is your average workout?:
About 2 hours.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
Biceps and Triceps

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Chest, its boring to me.

When did you start competing?:
I started competing when I was 19 years old, while being active in the military.

Jerdani 3

Do you have a coach to help you prepare for your competitions?:
I don’t have a coach to help me prepare.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
There is a pro show in November, but my ultimate goal is to be one day competing at Mr. Olympia.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
I have two. Gregg Plitt is someone who I have looked up to for a while now. My other inspiration is also my best friend, owner, and mentor. He is the president RevLabs, Joshua Nussbaum.

What supplements do you take or recommend?:
For my pre workout I take RevLabs Endorev. It’s like crack, and I need a tough pre workout. For my protein shakes, I use RevLabs protein and testosterone booster. It makes me feel great and brings my workouts and results to the next level. I also take any BCAAs or glutamine.

Jerdani 4

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
I try to eat 6 meals a day, spaced 3 hours apart. I also have 2 shakes a day.

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
I believe in super setting and drop setting everything I do.

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
It takes time… be patient. Consistency is key.

Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
I love people and helping, so feel free to hit me up for anything.

Did you like this week’s Feature Friday, Jerdani Kraja? Would you or someone you know like to be featured? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for other 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.


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 corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Wall Walks

Wall Walk 1

Wall Walk 2

Wall Walk 3

Wall Walk 4

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to do a handstand. This exercise is one of the best ways to learn how. Wall Walks strengthen your core and your shoulder muscles, they help you practice your stability, and because many people are afraid of falling and/or being upside-down, wall walks allow you to become more comfortable with the movement of a handstand while still feeling supported. Wall Walks are also a very important step in learning handstand pushups.

To Perform Wall Walks:
1. With your feet against the wall, start in a pushup plank position.
2. Slowly walk your legs up the wall by pushing your hands into the floor and feet into the wall.
3. Walk your hands back toward the wall as your feet get higher.
4. Crawl your feet up the wall as high as you feel comfortable. Hold this position for 3 seconds.
5. While walking your hands forward, slowly walk your feet back down the wall and return to the push-up plank position.
6. Repeat Steps 2-5 for the allotted amount of reps.

1. Only go to a height where you feel comfortable. You will still be strengthening your core and shoulders even if you don’t go all the way up the wall. Once you become comfortable, try getting higher until you can walk all the way up.
2. It is not a bad idea to have someone watch as your perform this exercise. It is good to have someone to catch you in case you want to try pushing yourself, but it is also important to have someone watch your form and make sure you are doing this exercise correctly.
3. Keep your core tight and back straight. It is very common to curve your back during this exercise which will compromise form and possibly cause muscle strain.
4. This exercise is to be done slowly. Having slow control of this exercise is key to activating the correct muscles.
5. I like to do about 3 sets of 5 reps.

Have you ever tried Wall Walks? Do you want to learn to do a handstand? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.

Feature Friday: Jen Piccolo

Jen Piccolo 2

First name: Jen
Last name: Piccolo
City: Wolcott
State: Connecticut
Age: 23
Height: 5’3″
Weight: I choose not to share my weight on any of my social media platforms. I’m a big advocate of self love and not letting the scale determine your worth. I want to inspire people, young girls especially, to focus on the healthy, not the skinny.

Follow Her:
Twitter: @JenTheFitFoodie
Instagram: @JenTheFitFoodie
Youtube: Youtube.com/IAmJenPiccolo
Website: www.JenTheFitFoodie.Blogspot.com

Jen Piccolo 1

When did you start working out?:
I started working out in 2009, right after I graduated high school. That’s when I decided to make a lifestyle change and start living healthier.

How many days a week do you work out?:
I workout 6 days a week. I have 1 active rest day where I typically practice yoga or go for a hike.

How long is your average workout?:
My workouts range from 45-60 minutes.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
I love to exercise my arms! I’m actually really proud of them. When I was at my heaviest weight I absolutely hated my arms. I would never wear anything that was sleeveless or showed anything more than my forearm. Now my arms are my favorite body part! They have definition to them now and I definitely have a lot more upper body strength. I do various arm exercises utilizing light weights and high repetitions.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Two words. Leg Day. haha. I’d say its a love/hate relationship.

Jen Piccolo 3

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
I would like to lose more body fat and continue to improve my strength while building lean muscle.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
I absolutely love Daniel and Kelly who run FitnessBlender.com. They provide free at home workouts for every fitness level. They advocate clean eating and exercise. They do not use supplements or endorse any products, which I think is awesome. Their main goal is to show you that all you need to change your body is a clean diet and exercise.

I also really admire Karena and Katrina who run ToneItUp.com. They upload free workouts to their youtube channel and post weekly workout schedules for you to follow. They also offer a nutrition plan!

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
I have actually been following celebrity trainer, Chris Powell’s, carb cycling plan. I eat 5 meals a day and alternate between low and high carb days. I typically stick to lean meats, tons of fresh veggies, and healthy fats. I do my best to choose things that are minimally processed. I have one treat meal a week… and it’s always Mexican food! My absolute favorite!

Jen Piccolo 4

You have made a huge transformation in the past few years. How long did it take and how much weight did you lose?:
I have lost 70 pounds. It took me a little bit over a year to lose the weight. Since I lost the initial 70 pounds I have just been working on building lean muscle and dropping more fat.

Do you think diet or exercise played a bigger role in your weight loss journey?:
Although both play a huge part in living a healthy lifestyle, I would say diet played a bigger role. I’m a firm believer that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. I’m actually proof of that. I was a competitive dancer growing up. It was a great form of exercise. However, I had a poor diet and large calorie intake so I was always overweight.

What is one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your transformation?:
I wish I knew more about “clean eating”. When I first started losing weight I did it by counting calories. It would have been a lot easier for me to just cut out the processed garbage and focus on eating nutritious foods!

How did/do you stay motivated?:
When Im not feeling motivated I look at old pictures of myself. By doing so I can really see how much I have changed. I realize how much I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. I love feeling healthy, strong, and confident; I want to keep it that way!

Jen Piccolo 5

What is your favorite cheat meal?:
As I already mentioned, Mexican food! I love fajitas and beef burritos. And churros. I really love churros.

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
I always love HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). They are quick, effective, and perfect when you’re short on time.

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
My tip would be to stay consistent. Make small changes over time and stay consistent with them. Integrate them into your lifestyle. Don’t change your diet so drastically or you’ll never stick to it.

Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
I have lost 70 pounds without a gym! You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership to get fit. There are so many great platforms to obtain free workout plans. Utilize whats already out there and invest in some free weights!

Did you like this week’s Feature Friday, Jen Piccolo? Would you or someone you know liked to be featured? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.

Raised Shoulder Pushups

Raised Shoulder Pushup: Step 1

Raised Shoulder Pushup: Step 2

Once you have mastered the regular Shoulder Pushup, it is now time to increase the difficulty. These Raised Shoulder Pushups are the second step in the progression toward achieving handstand pushups. This exercise will help activate and strengthen the muscles in your back, shoulders, arms and core that you need to perform the more difficult handstand pushup.

To Perform Raised Shoulder Pushups:
1. While facing the forward, start by putting your hand on the ground and legs up on a raised surface behind you(bench or table).
2. Straighten your legs and straighten your back to create and ‘L’ Shape with your body. You will need to activate your core to hold this position.
3. Bend at the elbows and lower so your head is just above the floor.
4. Push back up to straighten your arms and return to the ‘L’ position.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the allotted amount of reps.

1. If you have not tried regular shoulder pushups prior to this exercise, please Click Here to see how to perform a shoulder pushup.
2. Keep your back and legs straight to activate your shoulders, core and lats correctly.
3. Really use your core to keep the ‘L” shape in your body. Do not let your hips droop.
4. The tall the surface the harder the exercise is, so try starting with something that is only a few inches off the ground first and then work your way up to a taller surface such as a table.
5. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Don’t lift your head to look at the floor. That will cause unnecessary tension.

Have you tried Raised Shoulder Pushups? Are you working on getting handstand pushups? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, stories, or ideas for other topics.

Feature Friday: Ryan Young

Ryan Young 1

First name: Ryan
Last name: Young
City: Los Angeles
State: California (Originally from outside Chicago, IL)
Age: 34
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 170lbs
Profession: Model and Actor

Follow Him:
Twitter: @RYoung25
Instagram: @ryyoung
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ryyoungLA

How long have you been modeling for?::
I started in the mid/late nineties while growing up in Chicago. but it really took off once I moved to LA around 2000.

What agencies are you signed to?
I’m blessed to work with such great people at LA Models/LAM2 in Los Angeles, Spot 6 Management in Toronto and Brand in Orange County. Lately I’ve been looking to expand and reach further markets.

Ryan Young 2

When did you start working out?:
Fitness has always been a part of my life. Growing up I played soccer, baseball and volleyball. My first summer job was lifeguarding so I became a great swimmer then too. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that placed an emphasis on excelling in all areas of life, fitness being one of them.

How many days a week do you work out?:
I’m active seven days a week. I know, I know… I’m suppose to take a day or two off and rest but I find it hard to sit and relax! Six of seven days I’m lifting and running; the other ends up being lighter with maybe a hike, a shorter run, a spin class, an ocean swim, something.

How long is your average workout?:
My average workout is usually an hour and a half. I’ll hit at least a couple body parts, throw in some abs and do some stretching. I should come clean and let you know, I do split my day up with workout sessions. I’ll lift in the am and then run in the early evening, or I’ll switch it up. Either way, my day isn’t complete until I get both sessions in. Yeah, its a bit of an addiction at this point.

Ryan Young 3

Favorite muscles to exercise:
Favorite muscle to exercise, abs. Or legs. Its a satisfying feeling putting in the effort and seeing results from both of these muscle groups fairly quickly.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Not necessarily my least favorite, but definitely least worked, would be my back simply because I rarely see it. Vain but true! Lately I’ve been trying to change this and concentrate on it more because its been neglected.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
I’m constantly setting new goals; they give me a sense of what to work toward. Its part of why I love running so much. There usually isn’t a time I’m not registered to compete in a race. At the moment, I’m training for marathons in Reykjavik, Chicago and Long Beach. Then I’m set to run across the state of California in January… the short way, west to east. Along with all this running my goal is to keep on the small amount of mass that I do have. Finding the right balance is constantly in the back of my head.

Ryan Young 4

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
I’m constantly picking up inspiration from a variety of places. I’m that guy who while running will look at the faces of other runners and wonder what their stories are. I’ll be out along the beach and find inspiration in nature. Or I’ll be reading piece of news and be blown away by some small act of courage. Other athletes, small miracles of nature, music can all be inspirations to me. Its hard for me to separate what’s a “fitness inspiration” and what inspires, motivates me in general. I see it all as one. I believe how and what we choose to see in the world is reflected in our choices and therefore our fitness.

Do you have any other people you look up to?:
I do! At the moment I’ve been consuming everything I can about the great Indian runner from the 50s and 60s, Milkha Singh known as The Flying Sikh. His story of loss, tragedy, the power to over-come odds, and give back in charity inspires me greatly. Last year an awesome film called “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” was released about his life story. I highly recommend it, athlete or not.

Ryan Young 5

What supplements do you take or recommend?:
These days I swear by C-8 MCT oil added to coffee or foods I’m already eating. Just a small amount goes a long way in providing an energy boost, increased focus and greater endurance. I make myself whey protein shakes after each lift or run and take daily potassium and magnesium supplements.

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
I eat healthy but don’t have a set, strict diet. I allow myself to make daily choices and occasionally give in to my sweet tooth. Any given day, I’ll have a couple shakes with protein, chocolate almond milk, bananas, a variety of berries and maybe some peanut butter. Salads and lots of chicken and turkey are always on the menu.

I know that you are also a runner. How often do you runner each week? And how many miles?::
Usually I run 6 days a week, sometimes 5. Total mileage varies. Because of the run I’m doing in January, almost 270 total miles over ten days, I’ve been approaching my training a bit differently than as I normally would. I’ve been setting a distance to achieve and doing the same mileage for five days, taking a day of rest (or two) and then upping the mileage and repeating. Averaging out my total miles since the beginning of the year I’m at about 42 miles a week; lately, with more increased training I’m in the mid 50 range.

Ryan Young 6

Can you explain more about your “Race across California?”::
This coming January I’ll be taking part in the Race Across USA marathon challenge. Along the way runners will be raising awareness on the benefits of health and fitness to children. I’ll be running the California state portion running from the ocean, Huntington Beach to the CA/AZ border, (just under 270 total miles) before passing off the run to other runners who will carry it across Arizona, and then another group through New Mexico, then Texas and so on until the race reaches the White House. All the while, there is a core team of runners who will complete the full run across the country; I’ll just be keeping them company in California! Part of my involvement is to raise funds to support the sponsoring charity, The 100 Mile Club. This organization has over 700 chapters in elementary schools across the country and encourages kids to pledge to run 100 miles per school year. While pursuing their goal, the pledging kids earn small incentives to continue on along with learning the values of goal-setting and a lifestyle of making healthy choices. If anyone reading feels inclined to donate and be a part of my journey please take a look at my site http://www.imathlete.com/donate/RyanYoung . I appreciate it!

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
I see health and fitness not in terms of dieting or exercising to get that “summer body,” but rather in terms of practicing wellness through our daily choices. Its deciding to live a life consuming good foods and training. Achieving fitness goals, I believe, requires a change in our thinking and habits so that any positive results we see become long-lasting. Making these choices that at first might feel like sacrifices; giving up those sugary foods we love, going out for drinks or skipping a workout we just don’t feel like doing, but with a true commitment to ourselves, along with the answer to “why am I pursuing this goal?”, these sacrifices become just another way of life. So I guess that’s my humble advice: achieving fitness goals requires a change in mindset from what was to what is possible.

Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
Yes, make sure to get plenty of sleep too! It does a body good.

Did you like this week’s Feature Friday, Ryan Young? Would you or someone you know liked to be featured? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.