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.

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

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.

TIPS:
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.

Elevated Reverse Hyperextensions with a Stability Ball

Elevated Reverse Hyperextensions follow the same concept as Reverse Hyperextensions that are done on the ground, however when elevated you are able to increase your range of motion and challenge your core stabilization. To perform the exercise, all you need is an exercise ball and either a bench or a table. If you have not tried Reverse Hyperextensions on the floor, Click Here to view my past post and to see how to perform the exercise.

Elevated Reverse Hyperextensions: Step 1

Elevated Reverse Hyperextensions: Step 2



To do Elevated Reverse Ball Hyperextensions:
1. Place the Exercise ball on the elevated surface (table or bench).
2. Carefully lie down, facing forward, with your abdomen on top of the exercise ball. Grab the sides of the bench or table with your hands. Keep your legs straight and have your feet as low as you can have them. They should not be on the bench or table, but rather over the side.
3. While keeping your legs extended, raise your legs up as high as you can.
4. Slowly lower your legs back down.
4. Repeat Steps 3-4 for the allotted amount of reps. (I like to do 5 sets of 10 reps.)





TIPS:
1. Be careful when you are on top of the table or bench. Use your core and your arms to stabilize yourself. If you feel like you are tipping over, try performing Reverse Hyperextensions on the ground. Click Here to see how to perform this exercise on the ground.
2. This exercise is not about speed or how high you can get your legs, but it is all about the form. Control the motion and take your time with each rep.
3. 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.
4. Do not use the ball to bounce your legs up in the air. Doing so could cause muscle strain or you could possibly fall off the bench or table which may lead to many other injuries.

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

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.

Full Circle Fire Hydrants

Circle Fire Hydrants: Step 1

Circle Fire Hydrants: Step 2

Circle Fire Hydrants: Step 3

Circle Fire Hydrants: Step 4

Circle Fire Hydrants: Step 5

To be honest, I don’t know what to call this exercise because I made it up about a year ago and I have been doing it ever since. I took an exercise called ‘The Fire Hydrant’ and basically made it more complicated so I could target all areas of my glutes. I decided to use the name ‘Full Circle Fire Hydrants’ because you follow a circle pattern with your leg during the exercise. It may look easy, but if done correctly, your glutes will be on fire.

To Perform FULL CIRCLE FIRE HYDRANTS:
1. Start with your hands and knees both on the floor. Create a table top with your back and keep your hands and knees both shoulder width apart. (Picture 1)
2. With your left knee and both hands on the ground, lift your right knee and pull it into your chest. Crunch your torso toward the knee and contract your core. (Picture 2)
3. Now rotate your hip to raise the knee to your right side. Your knee should still be bend and your leg should be parallel to the ground. (Picture 3)
4. Extend and straighten your right leg keeping it parallel to the floor. (Picture 4)
5. Slowly move your leg toward the back. Your leg should be behind you now. (Picture 5)
6. Bend the right leg and return your right knee to your chest. Crunch your body toward your knee and contract your core. (Picture 2)
7. Repeat steps 3-7 for the allotted amount of reps (I usually do 10), and then repeat on the other side.

TIPS:
1. This exercise is all about form. Do not compromise form!
2. Hold each position of the leg for one second before moving onto the next step. Each movement should be nice and controlled.
3. Keep your shoulders square. It is ok to bend your elbows during this exercise if you need more stabilization, but do not twist your shoulders.
4. When I bring my knee to my chest (Step 2), I like to crunch toward my knee. Tighten your core and breathe out while your knee is in this position to give you abs a nice squeeze.
5. When extending your knee to the side (Step 4), keep your leg turned in. Some people may want to twist their leg so their knee faces the ceiling, but your knee should be facing forward.
6. After bringing your leg behind you (Step 5), it is good if you can raise your leg past parallel. Raise your leg as high as you can without bending your knee. You should feel a nice squeeze in your glutes.

Do you think you may try this exercise next time you are at the gym? If you do, let me know what you think of it. Do you have any questions, comments, or any ideas for other topics? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

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.