Arm (+Core) Workout with Hand Weights

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight WorkoutI get tons of requests for arm workouts, and since this upper body workout using light hand weights was a big hit, I decided to do another. This time, I’m making all the arm exercises a little more dynamic so that you work your core as well. Instead of just doing a shoulder press, you do it while holding a boat pose; instead of just doing a triceps kickback, you do it while in plank. This one is quick (12-18 minutes, depending on the intervals you choose) so it’s great to pair with a cardio workout or to do on days you’re “too busy” to workout.

Arm (+Core) Workout with Hand Weights

Equipment I Used:

  • Set of 5-lb hand weights
  • Set of 8-lb hand weights

As you can see, I used two different weights (light and medium), but you could definitely get away with just using one light pair. I only used the heavier ones for one exercise.

This workout flows from right to left. You’ll start with exercises isolating the right side, move into exercises with both arms, and then end by isolating the left side. You go through that a total of 3 times, taking a 30 to 60-sec rest in between each round (try not to rest between individual exercises; push to make it through the entire sequence before shaking out those arms!).

Your fitness level and the weight of the dumbbells you’re using will determine how long you stay in each exercise. To start, do each exercise for 20 seconds. If you’re more advanced, spend 30 seconds on each exercise. To help you gauge where you should start, when I did this workout using 20-second intervals, I was able to make it through the complete sequence without breaking. When I did it with 30-second intervals, I had to cheat and put my feet down a few times during the boat pose exercises.

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight Workout


  • One-Arm Flys: Start in a plank position with your left hand stacked directly under left shoulder and right hand gripping a hand weight. Hips should be level—fight to keep them this way throughout the exercise (your right hip will want to open up, shifting weight towards the left—don’t let it happen!). From here, squeeze your right shoulder blade in towards your spine as you lift the hand weight up and out laterally, keeping a soft bend in the elbow. Pause at the top and then slowly return right arm down to starting position.
  • Triceps Kickbacks: In a plank position, have left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, elbow bent. Keeping your hips level as you do this (fight your body’s natural tendency to shift all the weight into your left side), extend your right hand straight back behind you, really squeezing the back of the arm (triceps) as you do. Hinging at the elbow, bring the weight slowly back to starting position. This is the one exercise I used an 8-lb weight with instead of 5.
  • Serve the Platter: In a plank position, keep left hand stacked directly under left shoulder, right hand holding onto a hand weight, palm facing up, elbow softly bent. From here, keeping your hips level (resist your body’s tendency to lean into that left side), reach that right hand forward, getting as close to a straight arm as you can. Slowly return to starting position.
  • Push Ups: Use both arms for these! If you need to modify, drop down to your knees.


All the following exercises are down while holding a boat pose. For boat pose, you balance on your tailbone, leaning back slightly, legs and upper body lifted in a “v” shape. To do this, engage your core (I think of trying to squeeze my belly button and spine together). I keep my knees bent in boat with shins parallel to the ground (except for during shapers), but if you’re more advanced, you can try keeping them straight the entire time.

  • Shoulder Press: Start with arms in goal post position: elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulder height. From here, press your hands up overhead, bringing weights together above your head. Lower back down, but only so far as brings your elbows back to shoulder height. Don’t let them dip down lower than that. As you do these, be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Shoulder Shapers: Start with arms in goal post position: elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulder height. From here, maintaining those 90-degree bends, bring your forearms and hand weights together in front of your face. Return back out to goal post position. Elbows should stay at shoulder height the entire time. As we do these, we’re going to bend and extend our legs in boat pose so that it almost feels like a crunch. When arms are out wide, legs straighten, when forearms come in together, bend the knees, pulling them in slightly towards your chest.
  • Arm Circles: Extend your arms straight out to the side, a weight in each hand. Keeping arms straight, trace small, controlled circles with your hands, not letting your hands fall below shoulder height. Each round, alternate the direction in which you trace those circles.
  • Crossbody Punches: These are pretty self-explanatory: twist and punch! With a weight in each hand, start by holding them in towards your chest. From here, punch the right hand across your body, twisting your torso to the left along with it. Alternate, doing the same thing with the left hand. These should be quick—punch, punch, punch!


Repeat sequence you did on the right.

You will go through the entire sequence (right side, both, left side) three times. If you choose to stay in each exercise for 20 seconds, this workout will take you 12 minutes (plus a couple breaks). If you shoot for 30 seconds, it’ll take you 18 minutes + breaks.

Arm (+Core) Hand Weight Workout

WEARING | tank: Nasty Gal // leggings: c/o Puma // strappy-back sports bra: c/o Cory Vines // sneakers: Nike

Happy hump day!signature

Quick Kettlebell Ladder (+My Lorna Jane Picks)

Hello, weekend, you beautiful thing!

I wanted to share the tutorial to the quick kettlebell workout I posted to my Facebook page earlier this week for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the exercises (and, of course, for all of you who don’t follow the blog on the ‘book). This took me just under 15 minutes to complete and was the perfect way to start the day. I was going to take a class at Btone later that night before teaching, but needed to do something before gluing my butt to my desk chair. This did the trick!

Quick Kettlebell Ladder

Equipment I Used:

  • 25-lb kettlebell

You’ll go through the following exercises five times. The first round, complete 50 reps of each. Next round: 40; and so on, down to a final round of 10 reps of each. For the side bends, split up your reps (for example, during the first round, you’d do 25 to the right and 25 to the left).

Quick Kettlebell Ladder

  • Kettlebell Swings: Start with kettlebell on the floor between your legs and lift it up to starting position with both hands, flat back, using your legs to lift. With kettlebell hanging between your legs, use your arms as a pendulum, and swing the bell to chest-to-eye level by thrusting with your hips while keeping your core tight as you stand up straight. Swing back down and repeat. Your knees should remain slightly bent, but the main source of movement is hinging at the hips—not so much squatting.
  • Figure 8 Squats: Start standing with feet a little more than hip width apart, holding the kettlebell in one hand. Squat down, and as you do, pass the bell through your legs to the other hand, tracing half of a figure 8. Stand up, squeezing that booty and popping your hips forward. Squat back down, finishing the figure 8 shape around your legs as you pass the kettlebell through your legs to the starting hand.
  • Standing Side Bends: These are sneaky! The first few reps you’ll feel like you aren’t doing anything, but man are these effective. My obliques were noticeably sore the next day. Stand upright with fieet hip-width apart, holding the kettlebell in your right hand. With your left hand on your hip or overhead (I have mine overhead in the pictures, but it doesn’t matter—do what’s comfortable), lean to the right, lowering the kettlebell towards the floor. Return to starting position using your core (arm isn’t moving or doing any of the work; your torso is where the movement originates). Split up the reps between sides. Round one, you’ll do 25 to the right and 25 to the left. Round two, 20 to each side, and so on.

Lorna Jane Picks

In today’s post I’m wearing the Coco Excel Zip Through and Berry Support Full Length Tight that Lorna Jane so graciously sent me. I was super excited about the top because black zip-ups are such a wardrobe essential—gym, running errands, grabbing lunch on the weekends. I actually lost the one I previous owned so thank you for the perfectly timed gift, LJ! In addition to the items I’m wearing, I wanted to share some of my other favorite picks from the brand (just in time for holiday shopping wink wink).

Keeping It Real Tank // Sabina Stripe Bra // Erica Active ¾ Pant // Cruz 7/8 Tight // Mia Excel Tank Bra Combo

Lorna Jane also sent me their 2015 Move Nourish Believe Diary which is essentially a weekly planner with healthy recipes, workouts and pictures thrown in. To go along with it, LJ has the Move Nourish Believe site that covers all things health and fitness (sort of like an online magazine meets blog)–check it out! In particular, this Beetroot Crust Pizza looks delish and I loved this article comparing cold press juicers to centrifugal juicers.

Enjoy your weekend! If you’re in Boston and looking to get a workout in, I’m subbing tomorrow morning at Btone and there are a couple spots left in the morning classes. Sign up here! :)


This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Lorna Jane.

30-Minute At-Home Workout

30-Minute At-Home WorkoutDisclosure: This post was sponsored by Target® C9 through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Target® C9 all opinions are my own.

As much as I complain about Boston winters, I really don’t think I could live without all four seasons. Each one brings with it a new routine, new clothing options, new scenery and new activities. I’m teaming up with my friends at Target® to share some of my favorite wintertime activities. I’ve also included an at-home workout for those days you’d rather not deal with that winter weather (aka every day except the first snowfall of the season…)

My Favorite Ways to Stay Active during the Winter

winter-activities1 | Skiing/Snowboarding

I usually only make it to a mountain one or two times a year, but I always cram in as much skiing or snowboarding as possible. Last year it was a trip to Vail.

2 | Snowmobiling

You might not think sitting on a machine counts as being active, but steering that thing is a serious upper-body workout! My dad has a few snowmobiles up at our Maine house and it’s always fun taking them out for a spin.

3 | Snowshoeing

I had never tried snowshoeing until a couple winters ago around my parents’ Maine house, but it’s a really fun winter version of hiking.

4 | Investing in a gym/studio membership for cardio.

For me, it’s worth it. I used to muscle through outdoor runs all winter long, but now that just seems like torture. The occasional cold-weather run on more mild days is nice, but now when winter hits, I spend the extra money to take my cardio indoors. That used to mean buying a trial gym membership to use the treadmills, but this year it will probably mean a combination of spinning studios, Barry’s Bootcamp and Indorow.

5 | Working out right in the comfort of my warm, cozy apartment.

I live in New England. Winters aren’t pretty. There are days when not only do I not want to workout outside, but I don’t even want to walk outside in order to get to a gym or studio for an indoor workout. Hello, at-home workouts!30-Minute At-Home Workout

And speaking of which…

30-Minute At-Home Workout

Equipment I Used:

  • A set of 8-lb weights (adjust to your fitness level)
  • A chair (any elevated surface will work)
  • Exercise mat

This workout is broken up into 6 parts: you’ll spend 5 minutes on each body part before moving onto the next. Think of it as 6 little AMRAPs. Set a timer (or just watch the clock) for 5 minutes. You’ll go through the given exercises for that body part as many times as possible before those 5 minutes are up. When you finish, grab a drink of water, take a quick break, and then move onto the next body part.

If you’re a beginner, you might just want to stay on each body part for 3-4 minutes. If you’re more advanced, add on some time, staying on each for 6-7 minutes.

30-Minute At-Home Workout

ABS | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible.

  • 10 Starfish Crunches: These are the bane of my existence in Barry’s Bootcamp classes. Start lying on your back with arms overhead. Arms and legs should be out wide so that your body is forming an “x” shape on the ground. From here, lift your legs an inch off the ground, engaging your core. The goal is to never let them come to rest, but if you’re a beginner, do so in between reps. From this starting position, crunch up, bringing your right leg straight up into the air as you bring your left arm up and across your body to touch that right foot (get as close as you can—it’s ok if you don’t actually make contact). Slowly lower back to starting and then repeat on the other side: right hand coming up to meet left foot.
  • 50 Bicycle Crunches: Start lying on your back, hands behind your head (but not pulling on your head) and legs extended straight out, hovering off the floor a couple inches. From here, bend your left knee in, keeping the right leg extended out straight, and crunch your upper back up off the floor, twisting the right elbow across your body to meet the left knee. Repeat to the other side, fluidly moving from one side to the next, legs alternating in a pedaling motion. Don’t move so quickly through these that you aren’t extending your leg out completely straight with each rep. Each crunch (not each set) = 1.
  • 10 Side Plank Lifts with a Knee Crunch (RIGHT): Start in a side plank with your right hand on the floor directly underneath your shoulder. From here, lower your hips towards the floor and then engage that right sidebody to lift the hips back up. Next, crunch your left knee in towards your left elbow while keeping your hips up (don’t let them sag down as you do the crunch—right oblique is still engaged!). That’s one rep.
  • 10 Side Plank Lifts with a Knee Crunch (LEFT)

RIGHT LEG | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible.

  • 15 Curtsey Lunges to Calf Raise: Start standing with feet hip-width apart. From here, sink down into your curtsey lunge: right foot stays planted on the ground and as you bend that right knee, reach your left foot behind it as far to the right as you can until the ball of the left foot is planted on the ground as well. From this deep lunge position, you’re going to slowly stand up on the right foot, bringing the left foot back to center and then up, knee towards chest. As you do this, press through the ball of your right foot, lifting the right foot up for your calf raise. Lower the right heel back to the ground, going right into your next lunge.
  • 15 Knee Drivers in Low Lunge: Start in a deep lunge: right foot planted on the ground (keep weight in your heel) with knee bent to a 90 degree angle and the ball of your left foot planted on the floor as far back as you can extend that leg. Your goal is to stay this low on your right leg the whole time. Keeping all your bodyweight in the right heel, drive your left knee forward, in towards your chest and then extend the leg back out, ball of foot tapping lightly back into starting position before going right into your next drive. You want to shift as little weight as possible into your left foot while doing this (focus on that isometric hold on the right).
  • 15 Step Ups: Start with right foot planted on a stepper, bench or chair. This will be your base leg: keep it planted on the stepper with the majority of your bodyweight in that heel through the duration of the exercise. As you step up, lift your back knee up, driving it into your chest at the top. Lower back down, lightly touching your back foot to the floor before driving powerfully right back up.

LEFT LEG | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible.

  • 15 Curtsey Lunges to Calf Raise
  • 15 Lunge Knee Drivers
  • 15 Step Ups

CHEST & BACK | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible.

  • 10 Push Ups with Rows: Do a push up (from your knees or feet), hands planted on the ground wider than your shoulders (we’re targeting the chest; not the triceps). Have your weights placed right beside your hands (or hold them the entire time if it’s comfortable), and at the top of each push up, row the right weight up towards your armpit (elbow to the sky) and then the left.
  • 10 Superman Lifts: Start lying on your stomach, arms stretched overhead. From here, squeeze the shoulder blades, back and glutes to lift your arms and legs off the ground as high as you can. Pause for a second at the top, and then slowly lower extremities back down to starting position.
  • 10 Alternating Superman Planks: Start in a plank position, hands stacked underneath your shoulders. From here, lift your right leg straight up off the ground at the same time you lift your opposite left arm straight up, reaching out in front of you. Use your core to stabilize! Slowly lower hand and foot back to the ground and repeat on the opposite side, lifting your left leg and right arm. Each one (not each set) is equal to 1.
  • 10 Laying Chest Flys: Lay on your back with feet on the floor, knees bent. Holding a weight in each hand, extend your arms out wide to the sides. Weights should be hovering off the floor, not resting. This is your starting position. From here, bring your arms up and together, meeting in the middle directly over your chest. Keep a soft bend to the elbows as you do this. Slowly return back down to starting position.

BUTT | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible.

  • 10 Squat Pulse-to-Jumps (3 Pulses, 1 Jump): Feet about shoulder-width apart, squat down, sending your hips and butt back and down (not the knees forward!). Bring your hands in front of you as you sink down. Staying low, pulse down deeper about 1-2 inches, 3 times. From there, explosively jump straight up, swinging your arms back behind you as you do. Land softly and sink right back into a squat, hands swinging forward, starting your three pulses at the bottom.
  • 20 Hip Bridge Lifts: Start on your back, knees bent, feet planted on the ground, arms by your side. Squeeze the glutes to lift your butt off the ground, thrusting your hips up towards the ceiling. Pause at the top and then slowly lower back down, not letting the butt come to rest on the floor.
  • 20 Donkey Kicks (RIGHT): Start on all fours: knees stacked under hips, hands stacked under shoulders. From here, you’re going to press the bottom of your right foot up towards the ceiling, squeezing that right butt cheek. Pause at the top and then lower down most of the way (don’t let the right knee come to rest on the floor). As you do these, keep a straight spine by engaging your abs, pulling the belly button in towards the spine.
  • 20 Donkey Kicks (LEFT)

ARMS & SHOULDERS | Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the following as possible. I used 8-lb weights for all the following exercises.

  • 10 Triceps Kickbacks: Bend your knees slightly and lean your torso forward slightly with a straight back (pull those abs in tight!). Arms are at your sides, elbows bent. Keeping your upper arms glued to your sides and just hinging at the elbow, send the weights behind you, extending your arms and squeezing your triceps. Pause for a second at your fullest extension, then slowly bring the weights forward, again by bending the elbows.
  • 10 Serve the Platters: Start holding a weight in each hand at hip height, palms facing up. From there, reach your hands up and out in front of you to shoulder height. Careful not to the shrug the shoulders as you do this. Keep a soft bend in the elbow at the top, and then slowly return the weights back to hip height.
  • 10 Shoulder Presses: Start with arms in goal post position: elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulder height. From here, press your hands up overhead, bringing weights together above your head. Lower back down, but only so far as brings your elbows back to shoulder height. Don’t let them dip down lower than that. As you do these, be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • 10 Shoulder Press-Ups: Imagine your forearms and elbows have magnets on them. Holding a weight in each hand, palms facing your face, hold your forearms in front of you, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Fight to hold the elbows as close to each other as you can throughout the whole movement. From here, you’re going to press your hands straight up, lifting the elbows, keeping forearms close together. Be careful not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears as you do this. After pressing up as high as you can, slowly return back to starting.

30-Minute At-Home Workout

What are your favorite wintertime activities? Do you brave the cold or stay indoors?